The Grid Conquers All
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I've been saying for years that the Internet is too slow. Right now, it takes at least an hour for me to download an illegally pirated movie. I can't think of anything more backwards and unjust. So it's with great pleasure that I announce to you the coming of “The Grid,” a new computer service designed to make Internet connections 10,000 times faster than broadband. Have I got your attention? Good. Come join me inside.
The Grid is being developed by CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research), the same people who brought you the Web in the early 90s. But whereas the Web shares information between computers, the Grid shares computing power and data storage capacity over the Internet. Cloud computing, which has become popular over the past year or so, is based on this same principle.
The Grid was started in correlation with another project: the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Not only will this particle accelerator be the world's largest scientific instrument, but will be used to determine the origins of the universe. Without the Grid, it would be impossible to capture the 15 petabytes a year produced by the machine.
Because the Internet was originally created via an assortment of cables and routing equipment originally meant to be used for telephone calls, it doesn't have the ability to transmit data at the speeds required by the LHC. The Grid, on the other hand, was built with modern routing centers and fiber optic cables. As of now, the network runs from CERN to 11 centers in the U.S., Canada, Europe, the Far East, and around the world.
There are two Grid projects being led by CERN. I have already spoken of the LHC Computing Grid (LCG) project, so there is no need to delve into it much further. All I will say is that the processing power needed to analyze the data (!00,000 of today's PC processors) will be made continuously available to thousands of scientists at a time, regardless of location.
The second is the Enabling Grids for E-sciencE (EGEE) project. It provides a common Grid infrastructure for a variety of scientific communities, including physics, meteorology, and biomedical science. As of now, it connects over 20,000 computers at 200 sites around the world.
I hope you've enjoyed this brief overview of the Grid. Now, it's time to dig a little deeper and discuss exactly how the Grid works. I know you're interested, so let's keep going.
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