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task as if they co llectively were o ne massively parallel superco mputer. This technique radically
changes the eco no mics o f high-perf o rmance co mputing. BusinessWeek repo rts that while a middleo f -the-ro ad superco mputer co uld run as much as $ 30 millio n, grid co mputing so f tware and
services to perf o rm co mparable tasks can co st as little as twenty-f ive tho usand do llars, assuming an
o rganizatio n already has P Cs and servers in place. An early pio neer in grid co mputing is the bio tech f irm Mo nsanto . Mo nsanto enlists co mputers to
explo re ways to manipulate genes to create cro p strains that are resistant to co ld, dro ught, bugs,
pesticides, o r that are mo re nutritio us. P revio usly with even the largest co mputer Mo nsanto had
in-ho use, gene analysis was taking six weeks and the f irm was able to analyze o nly ten to f if ty genes
a year. But by leveraging grid co mputing, Mo nsanto has reduced gene analysis to less than a day.
The f if tyf o ld time savings no w lets the f irm co nsider tho usands o f genetic co mbinatio ns in a year.P .
Schwartz, C. Taylo r, and R. Ko selka, “The Future o f Co mputing: Quantum Leap,” Fo rtune, August
2, 2006. Lo wer R&D time means f aster time to market—critical to bo th the f irm and its custo mers. Grids are no w everywhere. Mo vie studio s use them to create special ef f ects and animated f ilms.
P ro cto r & Gamble has used grids to redesign the manuf acturing pro cess f o r P ringles po tato chips.
GM and Fo rd use grids to simulate crash tests, saving millio ns in junked cars and speeding time to
market. P ratt and Whitney test aircraf t engine designs o n a grid. And bio tech f irms including
Aventis, Glaxo SmithKline, and P f izer push their research thro ugh a quicker pipeline by harnessing
grid po wer. JP Mo rgan Chase even launched a grid ef f o rt that mimics CIBC’s superco mputer, but at a f ractio n o f the latter’s co st. By the seco nd year o f o peratio n, the JP Mo rgan Chase grid was saving
the f irm $ 5 millio n per year. Yo u can jo in a grid, to o . [email protected] me turns yo ur co mputer screen saver into a metho d to help
“search f o r extraterrestrial intelligence,” analyzing data f ro m the Arecibo radio telesco pe system in
P uerto Rico (no E.T. spo tted yet). [email protected] me will enlist yo ur P C to explo re AIDS
treatments. And Fo [email protected] me is an ef f o rt by Stanf o rd researchers to understanding the science
o f pro tein-f o lding within diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, and cystic f ibro sis. A versio n o f
Fo [email protected] me so f tware f o r the P layStatio n 3 had enlisted o ver half a millio n co nso les within
mo nths o f release. Having access to these f ree reso urces is an eno rmo us advantage f o r researchers.
Says the directo r o f Fo [email protected] me, “Even if we were given all o f the NSF superco mputing centers
co mbined f o r a co uple o f mo nths, that is still f ewer reso urces than we have no w.”G. Jo hnso n,
“Superco mputing [email protected]..
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This document was uploaded on 01/31/2014.
- Winter '14