Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Grid: innovation or marketing?

In the overdose of information that we experience everyday, in April i found the following news:

Coming soon: superfast internet called "Grid"

Most of the articles about Grid are based on one article (April 6, 2008) of british Times. In the article you can read the words of David Britton, professor of physics at Glasgow University and a leading figure in the grid project: "With this kind of computing power, future generations will have the ability to collaborate and communicate in ways older people like me cannot even imagine". It's a kind of sentence that can mean everything and nothing at the same time, it sounds like an advertising of a new product. Have scientists become expert of marketing?

Not huge difference of information since another article of Guardian (July 3 2003)
Welcome to the grid: unlimited PC power at your fingertips

another article full of hype:
The Internet's over ... here comes the Grid
Daily Mirror, 7 April 2008

What is the Grid?

A very fast speed network is obviously a positive invention but what is the
content of this network? What could be the benefit for "common" people? They
didn't tell us, but they (Ian Bird, project leader for Cern's high-speed
computing project) said "It will lead to what's known as cloud computing,
where people keep all their information online and access it from anywhere".
And the privacy? Who can guarantee that corporations won't search through my
private information that i could store online?

I'm not saying that the Grid is useless, probably it could be very useless,
but could anyone explain the usefulness to normal people instead of using
trendy slogans?
Is it possible to see the day when some journalists ask simple questions, instead
of just repeating/translating what they saw on the net?

In another site, at last we can read some specific information:

The EGEE Grid consists of 41,000 CPU available to users 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in addition to about 5 PB disk (5 million Gigabytes) + tape MSS of storage, and maintains 100,000 concurrent jobs. Having such resources available changes the way scientific research takes place. The end use depends on the users' needs: large storage capacity, the bandwidth that the infrastructure provides, or the sheer computing power available.

You can see the blog of David Britton (don't expect much because he
started blogging 1 month ago)


Mr.galle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gio said...

Hello Fab I hadn't visited your blog in a while now!

I've had a better look at the articles about the Grid you've linked.

The concept of the grid is not actually so new.

The concept is to have a remote user to remote-control a super-workstation made up of a large amount of processing units put together.

Part of this is already in use on some websites, where you get to share your CPU unused potential with other users.

This is limited by the bandwidth of data transfer.

up to now, the current top speeds are around

- 8 Mbps for DSL-ADSL

- up to 39 Mbps with Optical fibre cable OC-768

it seems like there are already cables that can carry data transfer at speeds up to 640 Gbps. (it's not British Pounds but billions of bits per second so 80000 Mbps ) there is talk that this can be tuned up to over 1 Terabit per second on a single cable.

We're talking of data transfer on single cables obviously you can have more using more computers and more cables at the same time.

According to Wikipedia the top speed cable OC-3072 is being developed and will transfer data at around 160 Gbps (20000 Mbps)

20000 Mbps is obviously what the Times is talking about, 10.000 times faster than the average bandwidth connection which is 2Mbps.

Here A Useful Conversion Tool

The Grid is a lot more than this though. The great innovation is to process the data on a remote computer, which implies a lot less transfer of Data basically!

For example no more software upgrades needed, all software will run on the remote computers. No much need to upgrade the computer so often, as it will only be a terminal, just like a tv or a telephone.

Basically all that the cable needs handle is a little more than the data necessary to broadcast a projection of what goes on the remote computers.

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