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Enabling Grids for E-sciencE-II


e-Infrastructure - Grid initiatives
A grid to power science

Searching for cures for disease, analysing the Earth’s atmosphere or testing theories about nuclear fusion require massive amounts of computing power. European researchers are providing it.

The EGEE-II project has expanded an international computer network to provide scientists from across Europe and the world with the processing power they need to run complex calculations, trials and simulations.

The applications currently being run on the system are designed, among other things, to help fight disease, develop new sources of energy, fight climate change, predict volcanic eruptions and gain a better understanding of the universe.

The infrastructure builds on the grid technologies deployed in the EGEE (Enabling Grids for E-sciencE) project, which started in 2004.

More computers, more power

By harnessing the resources of numerous, dispersed computers to analyse data, grid systems are able to perform calculations that would be too complex and time-consuming for a single machine or group of machines to manage alone.

In the wake of the network expansion carried out in EGEE-II between 2006 and 2008, the EGEE infrastructure now consists of over 50,000 computers maintained by more than 250 organisations in 45 countries worldwide. Their vast processing power and storage capacity is available to scientists around the clock.

100,000 tasks at a time

The EGEE grid is capable of processing 100,000 tasks at the same time and storing 5 million gigabytes of data – more than 41,000 times the storage capacity of the 120-gigabyte hard drives commonly found in personal computers.

This enormous amount of computing power and storage capacity not only lets scientists run calculations more quickly and effectively, but it also allows them to perform experiments that would be impossible to recreate in nature.

The grid infrastructure assists, for example, in the search for drugs to fight mutations of deadly diseases and to predict the effects of climate change.

Developing drugs, studying space and analysing genes

For another project, SPLATCHE, the infrastructure has been used to analyse genetic information in order to model the geographic spread of the human race.

In the European Space Agency’s Planck mission, the EGEE grid will be used to analyse microwave readings taken by a satellite. And in the WISDOM drug discovery project it is being used to find new treatments for malaria, the world’s second biggest killer after tuberculosis.

Other researchers are using the grid to run experiments in fields ranging from high-energy physics and nuclear fusion to fluid dynamics and even finance, among many others.

While EGEE laid the foundations of the grid infrastructure, EGEE-II expanded it in terms of computing power, geographical reach and the number of applications being run on the system.

In addition to linking national grids in Europe, the researchers in EGEE-II also brought on-board organisations in the United States, Asia, the Mediterranean region and Latin America, creating the world's largest production quality science grid.

As a result, EGEE-II has created a truly pervasive international platform for scientific research.

EGEE-II will build on the work of the EGEE project to provide a production quality, seamless Grid infrastructure service across the ERA and across the globe. The EGEE infrastructure benefits academic and industrial researchers in their daily work by simultaneously supporting many applications from diverse domains. EGEE-II will spread knowledge about the Grid and its benefits to researchers and students in High Energy Physics, Biomedicine, Earth Sciences, Astrophysics, Computational Chemistry, Fusion and other fields, through dedicated support teams and a well-defined training programme, as well as reinforcing links with the full spectrum of interested industrial partners. EGEE-II will manage, extend and consolidate the infrastructure, to link national, regional and thematic Grid efforts and provide interoperability with other Grids, establishing a world-wide Grid infrastructure. Built on the pan-European research network GEANT2, the EGEE Grid provides researchers with round-the-clock access to a common pool of major storage, compute and networking facilities, independent of geographic location. The resulting high capacity infrastructure greatly surpasses the capabilities of local clusters and individual centres, providing a unique tool for collaborative compute-intensive science (e-Science). User specific services from other projects and sources will be integrated in EGEE-II's existing open source middleware to further increase the functionality, security and ease-of-use.As the European flagship RI Grid project, EGEE-II will have a structuring effect through its role as a coordination body for related Grid projects, reducing the digital divide across European states and actively participating in developing Grid standards. EGEE-II will pave the way for a long-term sustainable Grid infrastructure to ensure the resources and knowledge developed during EGEE and EGEE-II are available to researchers in Europe and beyond in years to come.

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