With domain names in Hindi, Arabic and Chinese set to become a reality on the Web, the pundits in this science hub of Switzerland, where the
internet was arguably invented, claim the next giant leap towards internationalisation will be the grid, which is just weeks away from powering up.
The grid, which is made of thousands of desktops, laptops, supercomputers, data vaults, mobile phones, meteorological sensors and telescopes will start work when protons beams collide with each other in the worlds biggest experiment ever inside a deep tunnel here on the French-Swiss border.
It is a revolution, say scientists of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) because it uses the internet but is not the internet. Using cloud computing, the grid will combine the computing resources of more than 100,000 processors from more than 170 sites in 34 countries and will be accessible to thousands of physicists globally.
The scientists claim it will change the way the information superhighway works. Small computer grids similar to power grids have been in operation for some time, but CERN’s will be the biggest one of them all and will become a reality when its Large Hadron Collider (LHC) becomes operational this month.
The Grid will not only enable sharing of documents and MP3 files, but also connect PCs with sensors, telescopes and tidal-wave simulators.
The Grid evolved from the early desire to connect supercomputers into “metacomputers” that could be remotely controlled. The word “grid” was borrowed from the electricity grid, to imply that any compatible device could be plugged in anywhere on the Grid and be guaranteed a certain level of resources, regardless of where those resources might come from.
The Grid may give birth to a global file-swapping network or a members-only citadel for moneyed institutions. But just as no one ten years ago would have conceived of Napster — not to mention AmIHotOrNot.com — the future of the Grid is unknown.