Now, An Internet 10,000 Times Faster Than Broadband

| Monday, October 27, 2008

I found this article from sanjeevden blog. Don't know the original source is (if not orig). But i guess it's very interesting, so i posted it here. Here's the article :

Now, An Internet 10,000 Times Faster Than Broadband
The scientists who invented the Internet have now built a lightning-fast successor that can download a full-length feature film in five seconds, with a speed around 10,000 times faster than a normal broadband connection.Cern, the particle physics centre that created the World Wide Web, says what they have named ‘The Grid’ would have the power needed to transmit 3D holographic images; allow simultaneous online gaming with lakhs of players; and offer high-definition video telephony for the price of a local call.Professor of physics at Glasgow University David Britton, who is a leading figure in the Grid project, says: “With this kind of computing power, future generations will have the ability to collaborate and communicate in ways older people like me cannot even imagine.”It is to become operational this summer, when Cern scientists switch on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a new particle accelerator they have built to probe the origin of the universe. The Grid has been designed to capture the gargantuan amounts of data it generates.Cern, which is based near Geneva, in Switzerland started working on the Grid seven years ago, when researchers realised the LHC would generate data equivalent to 56 million CDs each year – if they were stacked one on top of another, the pile would be 40 miles high.Cern was where Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the Web in 1989. But it is not powerful enough to handle this much data – if it was used, the entire Internet could crash worldwide. That’s because the Internet is linked by cables and routing equipment that was originally designed for telephone calls. It lacks the capacity for massive high-speed data transmission.But the Grid has been built with dedicated fibre optic cables and modern routing centres. There are no outdated components to slow the data. Over 55,000 servers have already been installed to store the data, and this network will expand to 200,000 within two years.Technical Director of the Grid project Prof Tony Doyle says: “We need so much processing power, there wouldn’t be enough electricity to run the computers if they were all at Cern.” So the new network has to be powerful enough to send the data instantly to research centres in other countries.This parallel Internet is now built, using fibre optic cables that run from Cern to 11 centres in the United States, Canada, the Far East, Europe and around the world. From each centre, further connections radiate out to research institutions, using existing high-speed academic networks. Britain alone has 8,000 servers on the Grid system – in theory, any student in these chosen institutions should be able to hook up to the Grid rather than the Internet by the end of this year.Grid project leader Ian Bird says grid technology could make the Internet so fast that people could stop using desktop computers to store information and keep it all on the Grid. “It will lead to what’s known as cloud computing, where people keep all their information online and access it from anywhere,” he said.But the real goal of the Grid is to work with the LHC in tracking down nature’s most elusive particle, the Higgs boson. Predicted in theory but never yet found, it is supposed to be what gives matter mass. But even at optimum performance, The LHC will generate only a few thousand of the particles a year. Analysing the mountain of data is such a huge task that it will keep the Grid’s gargantuan capacity busy for years to come.The bad news is that the Grid itself is unlikely to be available to domestic Internet users, but the good news is that many telecoms providers and businesses are already introducing its pioneering technologies. One of them, dynamic switching, creates a dedicated channel for Internet users trying to download large volumes of data such as films. In theory, a standard desktop computer could download a movie in five seconds using this technology, rather than the three hours or so it takes today.But the Grid will be made available to academic researchers, including astronomers and molecular biologists. Cern scientists claim it has already been used to help design new drugs against malaria. Researchers used the Grid to analyse 140 million compounds, a task that would have taken a standard Internet-linked computer 420 years. Projects like the Grid will bring huge changes in business and society as well as science, experts say. The history of the Internet shows one cannot predict its real impacts, but they are bound to be huge.


Anonymous said...

"LHC Grid: Data storage and analysis for the largest scientific instrument on the planet"

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