DataGrid, the Internet of the future?

Carton Virto, Eider

Elhuyar Zientzia

On the Internet everything is. All the information you want about any topic and so many other garbage. The Internet is spreading everywhere and has more and more users, but the expansion has revealed the limits of the network. It is slow for many things and no longer serves to manage large amounts of information. The alternatives are, therefore, indispensable.

Europe is organizing the DataGrid system. The idea was proposed at the meeting of the European Commission held in Lisbon last March: Create an own network that would serve for European scientific research. The aim was to develop and demonstrate a computer tool that disseminates information at full speed throughout Europe.

The project was approved by the European Commission in May 2000, with a grant of 9.8 million euros for three years. Since December, the project is led by the European Nuclear Research Organization (CERN), in collaboration with the European Space Agency and important research bodies from France, Italy, Great Britain and the Netherlands.

Middleware

The World Wide Web system used to surf the Internet was prepared at the CERN in the 1990s and thanks to it, the Internet became accessible to everyone. His successor will also be held at CERN, with the same spirit but with new technological concepts.

In Grid not only will the data be distributed, but the applications have also been distributed. On the one hand, technologies based on “open source” will be promoted, that is, adaptable to the needs. On the other hand, middleware will serve as intermediary between users and applications. The middleware will be able to connect applications and operating systems, which will provide speed to the DataGridi. Supercomputers, data banks, computer tools and thousands of personal computers will be connected by this high-speed system. Instead of a computer doing a job, many computers will perform small fragments of work, and then the results will be shared.

The concept of mediator is the main contribution made by the DataGrid, although it is not being developed only in this project. Internet 2 that is being created at US universities has similar bases, as well as NASA's Power Grid program.

Powerful Network

One of the main tasks of the DataGrid will be to analyze and manage the information generated by the new accelerator under construction in the CERN. The LHC particle accelerator will begin work in 2005 and the DataGrid will also be ready. In fact, the enormous volume of information that is generated in the accelerator investigations forces a new system.

It has been calculated that to generate the information that will be generated per second in the accelerator, all the inhabitants of the earth should converse simultaneously from 20 phones, while to process the data would be necessary the work of 10,000 computers. The physicists of CERN, therefore, must have the DataGrid.

However, it will be of great use to many other non-physical. For those who research genomes, for example, or study climate models. A powerful system capable of collecting, processing and distributing many data is a valuable tool for working in all scientific fields.

However, regular users will have to wait a few years to enjoy the DataGride. In fact, Fabrizio Gagliardi, responsible for the project, told Elhuyar that "the researchers are able to take risks and they will be the first users of the DataGrid", even though the technology responds to expectations within approximately five years.

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