S'pore extends its national grid

Latest grid computing initiative targets researchers and digital media companies.

SINGAPORE--The research fraternity in the island-state can soon access high-end computing resources through a new grid infrastructure.

Richard Lim, chairman of the National Grid Steering Committee, revealed this at the opening of Grid Asia 2006, an annual event that encourages adoption of grid computing among businesses here. Grid computing describes the ways to make several machines work together to efficiently tackle computing jobs.

Called the AStar Digital Nervous System (ADNS), the grid computing infrastructure will comprise advanced IT networks, high performance computers, data storage, sensors, sophisticated lab equipment, visualization facilities and specialized software. AStar, Singapore's agency for science, technology and research, is funding the new infrastructure.

"The ADNS will enable data generated from large-scale lab equipment to be streamed to high-end computers for analysis. The output can then be further processed using high-fidelity visualization and display facilities," Lim said, adding that the amount of funds available for the development of ADNS is still being finalized.

The ADNS is a new grid infrastructure outside the National Grid Pilot Platform (NGPP)--Singapore's national grid initiative established in 2003. The NGPP comprises computing resources from local research institutes and universities connected together in a grid.

Beneficiaries of the NGPP so far include research institutes and digital media companies, which can access computing power on the platform.

"The number of computing resources connected to the NGPP has increased from 250 CPUs in 2003, to nearly 1,000 today," Lim said.

Based on data collected on the NGPP, physical sciences applications take up 62 percent of computational resources. In contrast, life sciences consume about 34 percent, and digital media about 1 percent, Lim revealed.

Tang Chi Sim, managing director of Omens Studios, a Singapore-based animation and special effects studio, said the NGPP has enabled his company to free up computing resources.

He said: "We have the latest CPUs and top-end video cards, but they're for production purposes. If I do rendering [on those machines] for a week, I can’t do anything else."

In a separate announcement, Sun Microsystems said it is contributing S$500,000 (US$315,000) for a grid compute farm. Called the Grid Discovery Zone, the platform will let several industry sectors, such as life sciences and education, test their grid applications, pilot them and explore commercialization opportunities.

According to analyst firm IDC, the global grid market will be worth about US$12 billion by 2007.

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