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New organisation to coordinate European scientific computing grids

A new organisation that will support the sustainable future development of leading-edge, collaborative scientific computing has been established following the signing of legal documents in Amsterdam.

The European Grid Initiative (EGI.eu) will coordinate a European-wide grid computing infrastructure on behalf of its participants (national and community specific resource providers) that will enable scientists across the continent to share their computers to carry out the very best collaborative research projects within Europe and internationally. Grid computing ‘connects’ computers that are scattered over a wide geographic area, allowing their computer power, data, instruments and storage space to be shared regardless of their location. It enables the resources of thousands of different computers hosted in university departments and data centres, national facilities, and even desktop PCs, to be combined to create a computing resource capable of making significant breakthroughs in data-intensive scientific research. Grid computing will enable scientists exploring what happened after the big bang at the Large Hadron Collider in CERN to analyse the equivalent of 20,000,000 CDs of data (15 petabytes), which is expected to be generated each year, much more quickly by distributing the workload across a grid. EGI.eu was formally created in Dutch law on 8 February 2010 following the signing of legal documents by its Executive Board, made up of seven representatives elected by the EGI Council, including the UK’s EGI Council representative and Director of the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) e-Science department Dr Neil Geddes. The European Commission has funded a series of projects which have integrated grid computing facilities across the continent. This started with the European Data Grid, which was then followed by three projects, Enabling Grids for E-sciencE (EGEE), all coordinated by CERN. The most recent, EGEE-III, is due to end in April 2010, and the EGI.eu has been designed and established as a permanent and sustainable approach to ensuring abundant, high-quality computing support for the European and global research community for many years to come. STFC’s Director of e-Science Dr Neil Geddes said: “Grid computing is already having an incredible impact on how scientists are carrying out research into highly complex problems. Scientists from five countries, , used grid-powered software to screen over 80,000 drug-like molecules an hour for their ability to disable a crucial malaria protein. In just ten weeks, the WISDOM project completed the equivalent of 420 years of work, producing a shortlist of just 30 promising drug leads. Using grid computing to find potential solutions before going into the laboratory means that precious time and physical resources can be saved, potentially leading to cures and treatments to diseases much more quickly.” “The creation of EGI.eu and continued development of a European-wide infrastructure for grid-computing will enable researchers across the continent to make the next leap in world-leading science.” Dr Bob Jones, EGEE Director said: “It is great to see this sustainable, distributed computing infrastructure for researchers in Europe being established and it is a fitting culmination of the work of EGEE and the many collaborating projects.” Dr Steven Newhouse, interim EGI Director continued: ‘The pioneering work from the EGEE and other projects have shown how an infrastructure originally conceived over a decade ago to support High Energy Physics is now a generic e-infrastructure that supports over 13,000 scientists across many different disciplines. The core software and operational tools have been refined over the last 6 or more years to become increasingly stable and secure – and all available under a business friendly open-source license for deployment within private organisations, or as a basis for further technology exploitation.’ EGI.eu will not own or operate any computers, but will co-ordinate clusters of computers in more than 50 countries through national centres called National Grid Initiatives (NGI). The UK’s NGI is coordinated by STFC’s e-Science department at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and is made up of the National Grid Service and GridPP projects funded by STFC, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Joint Information Systems Committee,JISC. Together, the NGIs and EGI.eu will direct the progress, operations, maintenance and sustainability of the EGI infrastructure. EGI.eu will be responsible for provision of essential services, such as security, coordination of user support, software commissioning, and monitoring and accounting for resource use.

Keywords

e-Infrastructure

Countries

Switzerland