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Applied Physics Group
Everything you always wanted to know about GRID and never dared to ask

CERN Accelerating science

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Sometimes the Grid is called the next-generation Web. The Web makes information available in a transparent and user-friendly way. On the other hand the grid goes one step further in that is enables members of a dynamic, multi-institutional virtual organisation to share distributed computing resources to solve an agreed set of problems in a managed and coordinated fashion. With the grid, users should be unaware whether they are using the computer or data on their own desktop or any other computer or resource connected to the international network. Users get the resources they need, anytime, and from anywhere, with the complexity of the grid infrastructure being hidden from them.
The technology needed to implement the grid includes new protocols, services, and APIs for secure resource access, resource management, fault detection, and communication. Moreover, one introduces application concepts such as virtual data, smart instruments, collaborative design spaces, and meta-computations.
All over the world national and international grid initiatives have been funded. In high-energy physics recently the first phase of the LHC Computing Grid Project has been set up. Its role is to prepare, coordinate, and manage the international infrastructure needed to share and handle on the grid the unprecedented amount of data (several peta-bytes per year) that the LHC experiments will generate starting around 2007. Architectures and resources have to be defined to fulfil the needs of the various participating scientific and engineering communities of over 6000 physicists and engineers coming from more than fifty different countries in Europe, the Americas, Asia and elsewhere.
Experience and know-how has to build up in the area of linking tens of thousands of commodity components combined into tiers of variant complexity (from tens of thousands to a few tens of nodes linked to the Grid). These managed components include CPU, disk, network switches, massive mass storage, plus the needed manpower and other resources to make the whole setup function. Issues of scale, efficiency and performance, resilience, fault tolerance, total cost (acquisition, maintenance, operation), usability, and security have to taken into account.

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