As the Search Engine Turns

When a search query comes into Google, it is handled by many hundreds of separate computers, each of which compares it to a portion of its vast index of almost every word on the Web.Mr. Costello’s insight, as Ms. Paterson explained it, is a series of formulas that let 90 percent of queries be handled by only one machine. As the system crawls Web pages to build its index, it has a way of putting links to pages on similar topics on the same computers, she explained. The upshot is that Ms. Patterson claimed that Cuil has searched 120 billion pages using only 140 servers.
Cuils New Search Engine: Cheaper Than Google, but Not Better - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog

From the department of esoteric interactive technology stuff that's really interesting but doesn't have an immediate impact on marketing communication.
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