Wolfram|Alpha Infrastructure Team

The Computers Powering Computable Knowledge

When Wolfram|Alpha launches, it will be one of the most computationally intensive websites on the internet. There is no way to know exactly how much traffic to expect, especially during the initial period immediately following our launch, but we’re working hard to put reasonable capacity in place. Will we have enough computing power to provide computable knowledge for everyone who visits? We hope so.

We’ll service Wolfram|Alpha from five distributed colocation facilities, which we somewhat unimaginatively call locations 0, 2, 3, 4, 5 (1 as a backup). What computing power have we gathered in these facilities for launch day? Two supercomputers, just about 10,000 processor cores, hundreds of terabytes of disks, a heck of a lot of bandwidth, and what seems like enough air conditioning for the Sahara to host a ski resort.

One of our launch partners, R Systems, created the world’s 44th largest supercomputer (per the June 2008 TOP500 list). They call it the R Smarr. We call it the most powerful computer that will be running Wolfram|Alpha on launch day!

Dell is another of our launch partners. They helped us pull together in just a few weeks a data center full of quad-board, dual-processor, quad-core Harpertown servers. That’s the computing power of another top supercomputer in its own right!

What does it all add up to? The ability to handle 175 million queries (yielding maybe a billion) per day—over 5 billion queries (encompassing around 30 billion calculations) per month. Big ambitions? We hope it’s more than enough capacity even at the busiest peak times of the day, and more importantly, that it will give you a great computable knowledge experience.

So, we hope we have built a strong, flexible infrastructure… and that you’ll be delighted when you try it.