grid computing

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grid computing,

the concurrent application of the processing and data storage resources of many computerscomputer,
device capable of performing a series of arithmetic or logical operations. A computer is distinguished from a calculating machine, such as an electronic calculator, by being able to store a computer program (so that it can repeat its operations and make logical
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 in a network to a single problem. It also can be used for load balancing as well as high availability by employing multiple computers—typically personal computers and workstations—that are remote from one another, multiple data storage devices, and redundant network connections. Grid computing requires the use of parallel processingparallel processing,
the concurrent or simultaneous execution of two or more parts of a single computer program, at speeds far exceeding those of a conventional computer.
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 software that can divide a program among as many as several thousand computers and restructure the results into a single solution of the problem. Primarily for security reasons, grid computing is typically restricted to multiple computers within the same enterprise, but a number of scientific projects—including SETISETI
[Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence], name given to a series of independent programs to detect radio signals from civilizations beyond the solar system.
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, CERN's Large Hadron Collider, and the study of protein folding—have utilized computers volunteered by individuals and connected to the Internet.

Grid computing evolved from the parallel processing systems of the 1970s, the large-scale cluster computing systems of the 1980s, and the distributed processing systems of the 1990s, and is often referred to by these names. Grid computing can make a more cost-effective use of computer resources, harnessing computer microprocessors when they otherwise would be unused, and can be applied to solve problems that require large amounts of computing power.


See A. S. Tanenbaum and M. van Steen, Distributed Systems (2001); F. Berman, G. Fox, and A. J. G. Hey, Grid Computing (2003); A. Abbas, Grid Computing (2003).

grid computing

(1) May refer to a cloud computing service that provides a complete server infrastructure but not applications. See cloud computing.

(2) A parallel processing architecture in which CPU resources are shared across a network, and all machines function as one large supercomputer. It allows unused CPU capacity in all participating machines to be allocated to one application that is extremely computation intensive and programmed for parallel processing.

There Is a Lot of Idle Time
In a large enterprise, hundreds or thousands of desktop machines sit idle at any given moment. Even when a user is at the computer reading the screen and not typing or clicking, it constitutes idle time. These unused cycles can be put to use on large computational problems. Likewise, the millions of users on the Internet waste massive amounts of machine cycles every minute that could be harnessed instead. This is precisely what the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence program does with Internet users all over the world (see SETI).

Naturally, grid computing over the Internet requires more extensive security than within a single enterprise, and robust authentication is employed in such applications.

Peer-to-Peer and Distributed Computing
Grid computing is also called "peer-to-peer computing" and "distributed computing," the latter term first coined in the 1970s, which had no relationship to this concept. See distributed computing, PC philanthropy and anticiparallelism. See also peer-to-peer network and peer-to-peer.
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