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IBM, Google detail joint initiative

Power couple plans to provide hardware, software and services to leading tech universities, as well as free info to the public to promote "cloud computing."

IBM and Google on Monday released details on their "academic cluster computing initiative" to provide data centers for remote computer programming.

The centers would allow a larger number of students and programmers to have access and processing power for writing software code involving massive amounts of data over the Internet, a practice known as "cloud computing."

The program, which is already under way at the University of Washington, will also be rolled out at Carnegie-Mellon University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Maryland. IBM and Google will provide hardware, software and services.

"The goal of this initiative is to improve computer science students' knowledge of highly parallel computing practices to better address the emerging paradigm of large-scale distributed computing," said IBM in a statement.

Parallel computational computing is the process by which one common task is broken down into a multitude of data packets that are simultaneously processed across multiple servers. The practice, when applied using remote servers accessed via the Internet, is referred to as cluster computing, or "cloud" computing.

The method can be used to improve efficiency for common tasks and to more easily complete difficult tasks that require extreme amounts of processing power, such as gene sequencing.

In addition to the university programs, both Google and IBM are going to provide free resources for the public.

Three different university curricula on topics related to cluster computing are available through a Creative Commons license. All three are offered by the University of Washington in conjunction with Google.

Google is also offering a series of free video lectures on cluster computing that it used for its own Summer 2007 interns.

IBM will provide Hadoop, an open-source software platform for developing clusters, as well as a collaboration Web site for universities and students via the IBM Innovation Factory .

Microsoft announced its own cloud-computing initiative in July that it said would include opening up Windows Live to developers.