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Energy Dept., IBM to unveil Science Grid

The computing giant is working with the Department of Energy to build a "grid" to interconnect numerous computers into a shared virtual supercomputing system.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
IBM is working with the Department of Energy to build a "grid" to interconnect numerous computers into a shared virtual supercomputing system that hundreds of researchers can tap into, Big Blue will announce Friday.

The seed of the DOE Science Grid consists of just two computer systems at present, but in the future it will include others at the national laboratories of Lawrence Berkeley, Argonne, Oak Ridge and Pacific Northwest.

The first two computers on the Science Grid will be a 3,328-processor Unix system at the DOE's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), which IBM designed, and a smaller and more recent 160-processor Intel system. In addition, a storage system at NERSC with 1.3 petabytes of space--about 30,000 times that of a desktop computer--will be attached.

A core group of NERSC supercomputer users will be able to tap into the system, which originally wasn't expected to become a grid system until 2004.

Grid computing, which pools networks of computers and storage systems into a larger collective of processing power, was born in academic circles. But IBM and others are making efforts to rework the idea as a tool for business computing as well.

Hewlett-Packard, Compaq Computer, Sun Microsystems, Microsoft and others also are pushing grid computing. IBM expects other companies' systems will be used on the grid as well.