Apple Keeps South Park’s Bad Words

    January 3, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

A show that looks very low-tech in appearance has a powerful hi-tech back-end when it comes to storing episodes of “South Park.”

Trey Parker and Matt Stone never have to worry about losing a single instance of Eric Cartman declaring, “Screw you guys, I’m going home.” A recent Computerworld report noted how South Park Studios has chosen Apple XServe devices for part of a developing storage area network (SAN).

Although the cartoons look simple, Computerworld said episodes have added more detail like crowd shots and backgrounds. Each addition bumps up the capacity needed to retain the episode, as much as 100MB for every instance of added detail.

The backup schedule for South Park on its old hardware would make the typical system administrator reach for the upset tummy medicine. South Park used to do one incremental backup a day and one full backup a month, due to the volume of data and the lack of speed in its previous system.

A publicly-traded company with that kind of minimal backup schedule would experience some very unpleasant moments with Sarbanes-Oxley auditors. Now that South Park has switched to Apple XServes and a tape library from Exabyte, the schedule has changed to four incrementals a day and one full backup per week.

South Park Studios technology supervisor J.J. Franzen described the old backup process in the story:

“The last backup we did on the DLT7000s took about two weeks straight — yes, two weeks. They were not the fastest things to begin with, and while they were fine for what we needed when we got them, we never anticipated making it to 9 seasons, or more, so we never thought we’d be backing up more then a few hundred gigs. Now that we’re at a little over 2TB, we needed something faster,” Franzen said.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.