Michel Tcherevkoff Ltd.

Grid computing is hot these days. With high-profile projects ranging from a search for extraterrestrial intelligence to a search for smallpox therapeutics, many researchers are looking to the grid as a way to get supercomputing power without dishing out supercomputing prices.

The Grid Computing Info Centre defines a grid as "a type of parallel and distributed system that enables the sharing, selection, and aggregation of geographically distributed 'autonomous' resources dynamically at runtime depending on their availability, capability, performance, cost, and users' quality-of-service requirements." In other words, it's an ad hoc high-performance computing (HPC) system, in which disparate and often widely scattered computers chip in their spare computing cycles to solve complex problems.

Many laboratories, having invested heavily in automation to obtain ever-greater quantities of information, are in dire need of HPC services to meet their data-handling and processing requirements. As a result the technology could produce an...

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