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Oracle joins grid effort

The database giant will join Hewlett-Packard and IBM in a European project aimed at advancing grid computing technology.

Oracle announced Wednesday that it is joining a major European research project aimed at boosting grid computing, a technique for divvying up intensive computing tasks among multiple systems.

The database software company will join Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel and other major corporate backers in the Openlab for DataGrid project run by the European Organization

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for Nuclear Research (CERN). The project adapts grid computing techniques to study the origins of the universe.

Grid computing emerged from academia as a way to overcome limited high-end computing resources by spreading heavy-duty computing tasks over many pieces of hardware. Grid computing techniques have been used to solve mathematical challenges, perform drug research and to work on other tasks.

Technology companies have become interested in grid computing in recent years, however, as a way to maximize use of computing resources, part of a general push for on-demand or utility computing. Major backers include IBM, which is promoting grid techniques for tasks such as running online games and detailed industrial design programs, and HP.

Oracle began its push into grid computing earlier this year, building support for grid tasks into its main database software and promoting a broad grid strategy to customers.

The company said it will contribute $1.82 million (1.5 million euros) to the CERN project over the next three years, supporting research that it expects will quickly benefit Oracle products.

"That we have already been able to deliver grid technology to the market...is due in no small part to the close partnership we have had with CERN over the years," Sergio Giacoletto, Oracle's executive vice president for the European region, said in a statement. "As these technologies then come into the commercial mainstream, both we and our customers will benefit even further."

The CERN project is intended to support the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), currently under construction and ranked as the largest scientific instrument in the world. The LHC is expected to product millions of gigabytes of data on particle physics, all of which will be crunched through the grid project.