New worldwide high-speed network on the rise

'DataGrid' aims to create worldwide, high-speed, distributed research network

With all they hype surrounding dot-com startups, it's easy to forget that the World Wide Web and the Internet were originally invented by government-funded scientific organisations. Now the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), which created the Web as a medium for scientific exchange, is working on the Web's successor -- the DataGrid.

The Grid, which last month received a grant of 9.8m euros (about £6.2m) to be used over the next three years from the European Union, is conceived as a high-speed computer network specifically oriented towards analysing and transferring massive quantities of data. CERN and the other partners see the Grid as a high-speed network of supercomputers, processor farms, large databases, personal workstations and other resources.

It will allow scientists access to shared databases of more than a Petabyte in size -- which, CERN notes in a statement, is "equivalent to the data contents of a pile of CD-ROMs standing about a mile high". "The DataGrid project will provide scientists around the world with flexible access to unprecedented levels of computing resources and will initiate a new era of e-science," CERN states.

Tim Berners-Lee, an Englishman, is credited with opening up the Internet by creating the Web while a contract programmer at CERN.

Other bleeding-edge projects aimed at creating a next-generation Internet include Internet2, a consortium of more than 180 universities working with industry and government.

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