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Cern's grid network connects computers and research stations and unheard of speeds, by implementing a brand new high-tech network with no legacy components.  (Source: University of Victoria)
Internet up to 10,000 times faster deployed, may see consumer use within a year or two

CERN, the Geneva-based particle physics center which spawned the world wide web in 1989, is looking to create the next internet, and has already laid down the essential ground work for it.  Experts say it is sorely needed.  Recent industry analysis, such as DailyTech's recent piece "American Broadband: Pathetic and Disgraceful," has revealed that most customer languish under poor data rates and high costs.

The new internet from CERN could change all that.  The proposed system averages speeds of up to 10,000 times the typical broadband connection today.  The new internet is known as "the grid" and could send the entire Rolling Stones catalog from Britain to Japan in two seconds, a scenario akin to the RIAA's worst nightmare

Among the fields the new internet may revolutionize are online gaming, holographic image transmission, and HD video telephony.  Under the new internet you would be able to complete a high definition video telephony call for the price of a normal call on a land line.

David Britton, professor of physics at Glasgow University says that the grid will surpass many peoples current conceptions of the internet.  He states, "With this kind of computing power, future generations will have the ability to collaborate and communicate in ways older people like me cannot even imagine."

After years of work the grid is coming online this summer on what is termed the "red button day".  The new network will help to transmit the massive data load from CERN's new Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

The LHC designed to probe some of the most complex mysteries of the physics world is a prime example of research application, which would be impossible without the grid.  The LHC creates an amount of data equivalent to the content of 56 million CDs annually -- or a little more than 36 petabytes per year.  If the data demands were steady this would equate to almost two CDs per second, but unsteady demand leads to a need for the ability to transmit dozens or more CDs worth of data in a second.

The demands of the LHC meant that the CERN scientists could not use the traditional internet, created by CERN researcher Sir Tim Berners-Lee, for fear of a worldwide collapse.  The current internet, a hodge-podge of high speed equipment and older equipment originally designed to work with telephone calls, simply is not robust enough to handle the capacity needed for the LHC or other potential future internet applications.

The grid, on the other hand, has been built from the ground up to a high tech standard.  It utilizes almost entirely fiber optics and has numerous cutting-edge routing centers.  The new network will not be slowed by outdated components.  The new grid already has 55,000 servers, and this is expected to rise to 200,000 within two years.

Professor Tony Doyle, technical director of the grid project explains the need for it, stating, "We need so much processing power, there would even be an issue about getting enough electricity to run the computers if they were all at CERN. The only answer was a new network powerful enough to send the data instantly to research centres in other countries."

The new "parallel internet" runs along fiber optic lines from CERN to 11 research locations in the United States, Canada, the Far East, Europe and around the world.  Each of these 11 locations radiates out to other academic locations, using existing academic high-speed networks.  In Britain, 8,000 servers are current online and it is projected that by the fall a student at any university could connect to the grid rather than the traditional internet.

Ian Bird, project leader for CERN's high-speed computing project, believes that the grid will make desktop data storage obsolete.  With the incredible speeds and data rates, it is only a matter of time, he says, before people entrust all their information to the internet.  Says Bird, "It will lead to what’s known as cloud computing, where people keep all their information online and access it from anywhere."

By using its blazing speed, the grid can leverage the power of thousands of connected computers, when challenged with a particularly tough task.  Researchers hope the new power will allow the LHC to detect a Higgs boson, an elusive never-before seen theoretical particle, which is supposed to be what gives matter mass.  The LHC will only be able to detect a few thousand particles a year and will need to leverage the grid's full power to analyze these particles in coming years.

It is uncertain whether the grid will branch into a domestic network, or whether business will elect to build their own similar networks.  Some telecom providers and businesses are beginning to implement one of the grid's most powerful features, so-called dynamic switching.  Dynamic switching gives the user a dedicated channel during a particularly big task.  This can allow a movie to be downloaded in 5 seconds instead of 3 hours.

For now students and other researchers such as astronomers and molecular biologists will be able to use the grid, though.  Using the grid's power scientists analyzed 140 million  possible malaria fighting compounds to develop more effect drugs.  This analysis would have taken a traditional internet PC hundreds of years.

Doyle believes strongly that the grid's technology is coming soon to businesses and the consumer.  He says, "Projects like the grid will bring huge changes in business and society as well as science.  Holographic video conferencing is not that far away. Online gaming could evolve to include many thousands of people, and social networking could become the main way we communicate.  The history of the internet shows you cannot predict its real impacts but we know they will be huge."

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Once again...
By BigToque on 4/7/2008 1:12:41 PM , Rating: 5
Once again, the hard drive will be the weakest link in the chain...

Where are the fiber optic hard drives? :p

RE: Once again...
By bespoke on 4/7/2008 1:22:28 PM , Rating: 5
The weakest link for Americans is our greedy broadband monopolies who have no incentive to upgrade their infrastructure. This new "internet" might be 100x faster, but won't mean jack since most of us will be stuck at ~5mbps...

RE: Once again...
By geddarkstorm on 4/7/2008 1:25:07 PM , Rating: 5
Selling points :). Whoever offers 5Gb/s connections speed first will instantly dominate till the rest catch up.

RE: Once again...
By FITCamaro on 4/7/2008 1:39:21 PM , Rating: 4
Only in areas they exist. Even if Comcast were to offer 1Gbps connections today, if you live in an area that has Time Warner, there's not a whole hell of a lot you can do other than move. That was his point. The companies have a monopoly at a single address. The consumer doesn't get to decide whether they want Time Warner or Comcast cable. They get to decide whether they want satellite or cable. Only in the satellite market is there actually competition since both Dish and DirectTV can beam a signal down to you.

RE: Once again...
By geddarkstorm on 4/7/2008 1:48:21 PM , Rating: 4
Then it may be a good time to think about making a "Grid" access start up company ;).

I know that was his point, and he and you are totally right. But, hopefully if this catches on, since it needs a new backbone instead of the current telephony dominated one, new companies will pop up or current ones will expand to cause competition. We'll have to see, depends on laws too.

RE: Once again...
By FITCamaro on 4/7/2008 2:17:40 PM , Rating: 3
Thats the problem. The laws are written so the cable and phone companies maintain their monopolies. You can start up a company that offers to install grid-like hardware and lines in your neighborhood. But you'll never be able to do it since either the phone or cable companies will stop you. Hence why FiOS has such a small install base. Comcast, Time Warner, Bellsouth, and Sprint are trying to keep them out of areas claiming their a cable or phone company.

RE: Once again...
By geddarkstorm on 4/7/2008 2:23:28 PM , Rating: 4
So sadly true, which is an incompatible way of doing things with the new Information Age's needs. Laws definitely need to get changed, and who knows how long that'll take. It's disheartening and frustrating, but how ironic would it be if the USA was the last developed country on Earth to get this system due to our antiquated telephone companies?

RE: Once again...
By Oregonian2 on 4/7/2008 2:08:55 PM , Rating: 4
Quite true. Those greedy scumbags want to make a profit rather than donate their trillions of borrowing ability to the greater good of the country and to porn downloading frenzies.

P.S. - Do the guys at CERN get a bill for under 40 USD a month for their GRID system use (and that be the largest bill they ever got for anything GRID related)?

P.P.S. - Do some googling and see just how much Verizon is spending to build out their FiOS system (it's come by our house). I did a year or two ago and found that they're spending an insane amount of money and nearly all of their capex is for it. One can buy 30-Mbps download from it if one is willing to pay (nasty word I know) for it. 15/15 is about $65/mo. One gets more bandwidth to the home in the form of TV video services off that same connection (although it again, requires payment). The telecom companies would be glad to provide terabyte services to everyone if they could be convinced that everyone would pay for it, giving them a reasonable net profit. But even then, like FiOS, the capital expense to deploy such a system divided by the amount of money available per year would yield a good while before it could be built out. Heck, it can take forever sometimes just to get local government approvals and just figure out the fees (locally the city charges different fees for allowing street digging based upon which street and how long it's been since they last paved it -- imagine just the figuring out of that for the country, and that's just to get to the stage of nothing-done-yet). I think some of the cable companies are talking FiOS-like (or greater) speeds in future systems. Still has to be built-out and capex to do so is limited by funds available (and for those not making money the capex available is even lower).

RE: Once again...
By geddarkstorm on 4/7/2008 2:19:34 PM , Rating: 2
Quite true, hence why this'll take a while, a long while.

Still, the Grid has already been deployed to several universities around the globe and between 55,000 servers (a drop in the bucket compared to current number of internet servers) according to the article, so we'll see.

RE: Once again...
By mattclary on 4/7/2008 2:25:35 PM , Rating: 3
We gave them money for faster internet back in the 90s. Do some homework before attempting sarcasm.

RE: Once again...
By dever on 4/7/2008 3:08:51 PM , Rating: 2
Proving once again that the free market trumps government interference.

What gives better incentive to for a company to perform?... A one time payment confiscated from the country's workers? OR... Voluntary continued payments by individuals based on performance of contract?

RE: Once again...
By Oregonian2 on 4/7/2008 8:40:34 PM , Rating: 2
I just read that article. It has some good points but most of it is promotional trash spoken in the writer's interest -- including taking things out of context. What it doesn't talk about is where the money comes from to finance that tremendous fiber infrastructure to the home. Did they spend a lot of capex for DSL to the home? Sure, for the same money they can provide for a huge number of DSL customers on existing copper as compared to having to install new fiber to the home for fewer people.

Saying that they plan to build wonderful things and then not do it is, like, "what's new". Look at a lot of subjects in Dailytech, where they talk about some form of vapor-ware, just as those systems were. They all have plans until money intervenes, or lack thereof. Off the top of my head, excepting for Verizon and maybe one other, most all of the big telecoms have been doing very badly. Like in losing money. Our area has Verizon and Quest, where Quest is probably the worst. Surprised they haven't gone bankrupt (may still do that) -- not sure what happens to service when that happens (glad I'm in a Verizon area -- formerly GTE).

One of the big things missing is that there had been expectations of a certain amount of revenue flow. Especially from long distance voice service that had been the big money source in the olden days. Competition of VOIP, cell phones, and third party services has driven down the cost of long distance to make it almost no different from local service in terms of price to the customer (and on my cell phone they are in fact exactly equivalent). All that expected revenue that didn't come had been planned to be the source of money to build the new systems. The new systems can't finance themselves because of the catch-22 situation (particularly when there is a long period before a built system even breaks even). Plus they got burnt seriously upon the dot-com crash. I suspect that makes them a bit more reluctant to invest heavily on wild expectations of customers coming if they only build it.

As to speed of links. Those who are served by the newest FiOS links using G-PON technology (made by Alcatel-Lucent), customers actually receive data at a 2.4 Gbps rate and send data back at a 1.2Gbps rate (downlinks are addressed packets on a shared optical pipe, uplink is dynamically allocated timeslot based). You just aren't allowed to average higher than the offered services provided, but the raw speed is there and is delivered into the home (even if not allowed to be used w/o much lower limits).

RE: Once again...
By jeff834 on 4/7/2008 2:58:15 PM , Rating: 2
Prices for FiOS here (NJ) are quite reasonable. 20/5 for $50 a month by itself or $100 a month for the internet and HD TV. I pay Comcast about $130 a month for TV, internet, and phone, and I could very easily do without phone service to get a much faster internet (20/5 vs 7/1) and what Im sure will be better TV service since I have big problems with signal strength for the higher up channels as it is. FiOS is available where I live, but it's a pretty big town (just under 100k people) and its taking a while for them to get to me.

RE: Once again...
By Joz on 4/7/08, Rating: 0
RE: Once again...
By somedude1234 on 4/7/2008 1:47:10 PM , Rating: 5
I hope that's sarcasm!

Any halfway-decent 7.2k RPM SATA drive can stream anywhere from 60 to 80 MBps (mega-BYTES) for large-sequential transfer sizes (i.e. video streaming)... that's enough to saturate an internet connection providing an ACTUAL throughput of (very roughly) 600 to 800 Mbps (mega-BITS).

A typical DSL connection in the USA will give you 3.0 Mbps downstream, that comes out to (very roughly) 0.3 MBps =(

My craptacular comcast connection will briefly burst up to about 16 Mbps, which is (roughly again) 1.6 MBps. I can't remember the last time I had a HDD that slow.

The day my HDD becomes the bottleneck in a transmission going over the internet is the day I jump for joy.

RE: Once again...
By Funksultan on 4/7/2008 2:23:46 PM , Rating: 4
Amen somedude. Joz doesn't understand...

when he said..

well, maybe a RAID of a hundred or so 15000rpm SCSI's

Once people throw out ridiculous numbers, it usually means they don't have a clue about the actual facts, and how numbers relate to them.

Granted, this new tech will make a mockery of conventional storage, but I'll just hold off until it actually surfaces before worrying about keeping up.

Magnetic drives? Doubtful.
Some ultra-fast form of SSD? Very likely.

RE: Once again...
By namechamps on 4/10/2008 1:49:33 PM , Rating: 2
I would give you a +1 but you are already maxed.

Thanks for your support in the never ending battle to educate DT readers what 1 bit != 1 byte. Doesn't matter the topic at least once a day someone makes a post that needs to be corrected because 1 bit != 1 byte.

RE: Once again...
By AToZKillin on 4/11/2008 3:11:10 PM , Rating: 2
8 bits to a byte. But at least you had the right general idea. That being said though, you don't want to even remotely saturate hard disk bandwidth. For the same reasons that you don't want to saturate LAN bandwidth.

RE: Once again...
By kextyn on 4/7/2008 1:55:46 PM , Rating: 3
You should really learn how to convert bits and bytes. It would only take one or two fast drives to saturate a 1Gbps link. And since I know that Comcast is NOT giving you a 1Gbps link I'm fairly certain that 1 hard drive would saturate your connection.

RE: Once again...
By DeepBlue1975 on 4/11/2008 12:12:31 AM , Rating: 2
No, you've got it wrong:

1 bit = 1 byte = 1 meter = 1 celsius deg = 1 fahrenheit deg = 1 kelvin deg = 1 kilogram.

If that weren't true, instant teleporting devices ala star trek couldn't exist...

Oh, wait. We have no teleporting devices at all! Hell! What's wrong here?

Never mind.

I'd rather not download too many things or my hard drive will get so fat it'll end up creating a black hole right on top my desk, sucking away all my hardware parts into some crappy unknown dimension which only exists in a badly written sci-fi movie for children.

People: 2 much incompletely read information will give you problems converting simple, basic measurement units and some day you are gonna kill your grandma because you think she's just a big lost cluster that escaped from the HDD and must be wiped off for your machine to boot correctly.

PS: Just kidding!

RE: Once again...
By piroroadkill on 4/7/08, Rating: -1
RE: Once again...
By tastyratz on 4/8/2008 8:47:46 AM , Rating: 5
racism, intelligent. perhaps you plan to trump his ignorance with your arrogance?

RE: Once again...
By freaqie on 4/7/2008 2:00:50 PM , Rating: 2
it may be so that the hard drive cannot keep up.
however your ram can.
so you save it in there. and you can stream hd anyway.. o need to save it...

only on the server side it could be a problem

RE: Once again...
By dflynchimp on 4/9/2008 4:45:25 PM , Rating: 2
screw fiber optics, I want a end-user "Cortana" to store all my data...and maybe some personal functions too ;)

RE: Once again...
By ShaolinSoccer on 4/10/2008 11:01:56 AM , Rating: 2
Instead of end-user, you mean all-users. PC's on both sides need to be able to read and write almost instantly in order for this "grid" to be used to its full potential.

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton
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