back to article Ford to build own data centre to store connected car data

Following boastful tweets by American president Donald Trump about job creation, Ford is set to open its very own Michigan data centre for its connected cars. Predicting data storage requirements of 200PB by 2021 – growing from today’s 13PB – Ford chief exec Mark Fields said in a canned statement that the new bit barn “will …

  1. Halfmad

    200PB by 2021..

    That's a lot of "where our customers have been" data.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 200PB by 2021..

      It certainly is, but they will also be collecting a lot of the data about vehicle, engine and systems performance for CVE warranty and new design purposes. Speeds, gears, fuel use, oil and water temps, electrical loads, possibly acceleration and deceleration rates, entertainment systems use, lights, windows, cabin temperature, ambient temperature, aircon use etc. On an EV there's different data to collect, like traction battery charge state, ancillary battery state, rate of discharge, temperature, loss of capacity, motor power & torque, regeneration gains etc.

      1. Titus Aduxass
        Thumb Down

        Re: 200PB by 2021..

        "It certainly is, but they will also be collecting a lot of the data about vehicle, engine and..."

        True enough.

        But it's still a lot of "where our customers have been" data.

        1. Oneman2Many

          Re: 200PB by 2021..

          "Where have you been data" is peanuts compared to rest. I did read that a smart vehicle (not autonomous) generates about a 1 TB an hour of data. I am going to assume that the vast majority is aggregated but that is still a lot of data to manage.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 200PB by 2021..

        It certainly is,

        So not just "where has our customer been", but "how did he get there and did he have fresh underwear". That puts Windows 10 to shame.

    2. PNGuinn
      Mushroom

      That's a lot of "where our customers have been" data.

      Not my data, It won't be.

      Go suck another lemon, Ford. Or stuff an Edsel up ... Sideways.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: 200PB by 2021..

      And if it isn't completely anonymised, then it would be illegal of Ford to store the data on Europrean vehicles there, Privacy Shield be damned.

  2. Michael B.

    pfft If they want a real test come to Bristol. The shear number of random traffic lights with random timings will give that system a real work out.

    1. MK_E

      I seem to recall hearing about one local council running a pilot project for a traffic calming measure a few years back - rather than the usual speeding fines and accusations of using speed limits as revenue generation, the plan was to have the radars passively detect people travelling over the limit and instruct the lights half a mile up the road to go red.

      Wonder how that would play with this system?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        radars passively detect people.....Wonder how that would play with this system?

        Over-complication, surely? Simply phasing successive traffic lights usually works well enough, and I can think of a number of places where this has been done for years. In either case you need to make it widely known that the lights don't reward speeding in order to have your desired effect, so there's not much point in being clever and stealthy.

        That of course assumes that councils want transport to run smoothly. Observation suggests that many regard buses as the only acceptable form of transport, and see cars as the work of satan, to be actively obstructed, slowed and hindered.

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Traffic signals

        Are already used to make travelling less effficient and slower.

        Sadly, Traffic Planners seem to have been told that the only way to manager traffic is to make it stop more. Hang the extra fuel used and the extra pollution. Those stop lights look nice and pretty.

        There is one city where there are hardly any traffic lights. Amman in Jordan. Traffic seems to move quite freely there but hey, NIH rules and traffic lights are oh so pretty. Pretty, pretty lights.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Traffic signals

          In the UK this used to be official government policy... during the oil boom years the government wanted to maximise revenue from fuel sales, so the guidance to local authorities was to get vehicles to stop as often as possible.

          I've noticed that when traffic lights fail entirely for a large area - particularly in large congested cities - the traffic often flows more freely... I've hit this a few times in Liverpool after major storms leading up to rush hour, and it was some of the best commutes I've done at that time of day!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        the plan was to have the radars passively detect people travelling over the limit and instruct the lights half a mile up the road to go red.

        I pass a few like that every day on my commute. They are outside schools, and although they work they do have one drawback: if you get the speed/acceleration point just right you can get them to start to change just as you pass, and the guy behind you gets the red light. Oh, such fun...

        1. swampdog
          Happy

          .

          There's one like that on the A611 (dual) off M1 J27. It's fun. In the evening you can sit at the roundabout lights (at "the beginning") with a boy racer. Give it some beans off the lights and boy(*) racer will go tearing off up the hill. Now lift and stay at 70mph. Meanwhile boy racer has hit the top of the hill, triggered the "slow down" sign and the lights go red. You can go sailing through the lights at 70mph just as they change to green & he's stationary. He can't catch you before the next roundabout when more restrictive speed limits come into force. They hate it!

          (*) and girl. They're not immune.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        For many lights in a few towns / cities where they are generally working in sequence together, they are designed so that if you drive in excess of the speed limit, you'll most likely end up hitting the next set of lights at red anyway.

        Of course, with traffic nowadays, hitting the next set of lights is an achievement regardless of state or speed!

  3. hatti

    Putin and his team may try another hackathon

  4. MK_E

    That last paragraph reminded me of an old Atari game where you had a grid of roads and could toggle the lights between N/S or E/W, with the goal of keeping the traffic going for as long as possible without getting backed up, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was called now.

    1. VinceH Silver badge
      Coat

      Traffic Light Simulator. Anorak Edition.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is that a good idea?

    "The $200m facility will be under the control of Ford’s Smart Mobility division and located in Flat Rock, on the south-west corner of Detroit."

    Is it really a Good Idea to put 200-million-dollars worth of fancy computer equipment anywhere near Detroit?

    1. Cris E

      Re: Is that a good idea?

      Well there's nothing else near there, so it'll be cheap to buy up a large buffer zone.

      Seriously, I bet they got a huge subsidy to bring the construction jobs in and the development jobs are a solid addition for the community, but I wonder if they realize how few people it takes to run a HUGE data center like that.

    2. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Is that a good idea?

      The south west corner of Detroit is actually quite nice. That particular bit is closer to Canada or University of Michigan than downtown Detroit.

  6. Alister Silver badge

    Cost works out at about $1m per petabyte

    Well DDR3 RAM costs about £10.00 / GB at the moment (just been upgrading some servers) so if my maths is correct, £1m / Petabyte is about right, isn't it?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How many racks?

    If you assume around 1PB per rack (*), that would be 200 racks. You could rent those for perhaps $15,000 per rack per year, or $3m per year. In which case, $200m seems pretty extravagant to build your own data centre.

    So the other $197m is probably being spent on equipment, i.e. the $1m per PB figure which El Reg came up with. Some storage vendor must be very happy right now.

    (*) 8TB drives, 36 per 4U box, 10 boxes per rack, replicate everything 3 times for redundancy

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How many racks?

      1PB per rack would be terrible density. Even using today's hardware something like a synergy box will give you 200 2.5" drives into a 10U box. And that is before you start taking into account de-dup and compression.

      And I would hope that replication is occurring off-site somewhere

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How many racks?

      In which case, $200m seems pretty extravagant to build your own data centre.

      since they'll have to replace most of the hardware in 2021 anyway, $200m is pushing close to S3 pricing.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How many racks?

      So the other $197m is probably being spent on equipment,

      Land, grid power connection, mutiply redundant power backup, backhaul & comms, the barn itself, site security, servers to do the data processing in addition to the storage racks (this is big data, there's going to need to be some serious processing clout). $197m is consistent with reported costs for other enormo DCs.

      If you're using AWS or any competent hosting provider you get all of those at their cost averaged across mutiple users, or maybe even their marginal cost if there's an anchor client for whose use the DC was actually built, so you get those far, far cheaper than you could do them yourself. But that means you're dependent upon the host, and requires trust, adds some counterparty risk and has low transparency for the data owner. Insource it all (as Ford appear to be) and they incur the full cost, but they also have a lot more control. Whether a car company will be any good at managing a DC, and managing data securely and effectively we'll see, but in their place I suspect I'd conclude that £200m is chump change when each new car model has development costs of around $5 billion.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well DDR3 RAM costs about £10.00 / GB at the moment (just been upgrading some servers) so if my maths is correct, £1m / Petabyte is about right, isn't it?

    That would be £10m per petabyte (+/- 5% depending on whether you work in multiples of 1000 or 1024)

    But I doubt they are storing all their data in DRAM.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      see, I knew my maths was wrong. :)

      I didn't honestly think they would be storing it in DRAM, either.

  9. Christoph Silver badge

    So if I use a Ford car then detailed data on every single thing I do with it will be stored in the USA under USA total-absence-of-data-protection laws.

    1. Adam 1 Silver badge

      At least until it catches on fire.

  10. astounded1

    Nine people per shift to run this building - max

    Another edition of the robot data center controlling everyone but producing squat for jobs. Bully!

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Dan 10

    So what about a DR site?

    $200m is a hell of a capex to store what is potentially personal data that shouldn't leave the jurisdiction in which it was recorded. Surely it would be less of a risk to deploy to multiple regions in the cloud?

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Because it shouldn't leave the jurisdiction!

      There is no such thing as a cloud. It's just somebody else's computer.

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