c. grid computing
Grid computing (or the use of a computational grid) is applying the resources of many computers in a network to a single problem at the same time - usually to a scientific or technical problem that requires a great number of computer processing cycles or access to large amounts of data. A well-known example of grid computing in the public domain is the ongoing SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) @Home project in which thousands of people are sharing the unused processor cycles of their PCs in the vast search for signs of "rational" signals from outer space. According to John Patrick, IBM's vice-president for Internet strategies, "the next big thing will be grid computing."
Grid computing requires the use of software that can divide and farm out pieces of a program to as many as several thousand computers. Grid computing can be thought of as distributed and large-scale cluster computing and as a form of network-distributed parallel processing. It can be confined to the network of computer workstations within a corporation or it can be a public collaboration (in which case it is also sometimes known as a form of peer-to-peer computing).
Grid computing appears to be a promising trend for three reasons: (1) its ability to make more cost-effective use of a given amount of computer resources, (2) as a way to solve problems that can't be approached without an enormous amount of computing power, and (3) because it suggests that the resources of many computers can be cooperatively and perhaps synergistically harnessed and managed as a collaboration toward a common objective. In some grid computing systems, the computers may collaborate rather than being directed by one managing computer. One likely area for the use of grid computing will be pervasive computing applications - those in which computers pervade our environment without our necessary awareness.
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This was first published in September 2003