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WorldCat Speeds Up

:: Via Jenny Levine comes word from Lorcan Dempsey of a massive increase in processing power at OCLC:

OCLC Research recently acquired a 24-node (48-cpu) Beowulf cluster with 96 Gigabytes of memory. According to my colleague Thom Hickey, whose team has been working on the machine, the cluster speeds up most bibliographic processing by about a factor of 30. This means that what might have taken a minute now takes two seconds, what might have taken an hour takes two minutes, what might have taken a month takes a day. For jobs that will fit entirely in memory (e.g. a `grep' of WorldCat) avoiding disk i/o gives another factor of about 20, reducing 1-hour jobs down to 6 seconds. We can 'frbrize' WorldCat on the cluster in about an hour.

WorldCat is also now more mobile. Thom has a 40 gig iPod which can accommodate WorldCat on its disk with room left for 5,000 song tracks. Now, you can't do much with the data on the iPod, but you can certainly carry it around. Again, it takes about an hour to get it on and off the iPod.

I use (and like) OCLC WorldCat a lot, so this is great news for all searchers. I don't own an iPod, but the implications are huge. If users can carry around the entire WorldCat db on their iPods, when will the technology be available to download individual PACs? Or is it there already? I cannot find the instructions to download WorldCat to one's iPod, so I've asked Lorcan for more information.


Randy, thanks for your kind note! This is an OCLC Research activity at the moment. We do not currently deliver WorldCat in this way. It does make you think about what the future holds though!

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