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Caffeine: Google's new search index

June 9th, 2010 at 10:11 AM

Today, Google announced the completion of its new web indexing system title Caffeine. Google boasts that Caffeine, “provides 50 percent fresher results for web searches than our last index, and it’s the largest collection of web content we’ve offered.” Google goes onto explain just how their old index and Caffeine differ:

Our old index had several layers, some of which were refreshed at a faster rate than others; the main layer would update every couple of weeks. To refresh a layer of the old index, we would analyze the entire web, which meant there was a significant delay between when we found a page and made it available to you.

With Caffeine, we analyze the web in small portions and update our search index on a continuous basis, globally. As we find new pages, or new information on existing pages, we can add these straight to the index. That means you can find fresher information than ever before—no matter when or where it was published.

It all sounds good to us, after all…we like to keep it fresh from time to time. Google also indulges us with some fairly mind-numbing statistics about just how fast Caffeine actually crawls the web:

Caffeine lets us index web pages on an enormous scale. In fact, every second Caffeine processes hundreds of thousands of pages in parallel. If this were a pile of paper it would grow three miles taller every second. Caffeine takes up nearly 100 million gigabytes of storage in one database and adds new information at a rate of hundreds of thousands of gigabytes per day. You would need 625,000 of the largest iPods to store that much information; if these were stacked end-to-end they would go for more than 40 miles.

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