Feature: Grids at SC'06
From sparkling cars to free iPods, SCÂ‘06 in Tampa, Florida was far from your average technical conference. With over 250 exhibitors, 48 miles of cable, hundreds of technical and educational programs, workshops, and tutorials, there was plenty to entertain the more than 7,000 attendees gathered from around the globe to witness a fascinating demonstration of high performance computing and grid technology.
This yearÂ’s conference took inspiration from Albert Einstein who said, "Computers are incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination." Such power was clearly demonstrated in the numerous examples of grid technologies present at the conference. Ray Kurzweil, famed inventor, specifically acknowledged their influence in his keynote speech, where he highlighted the importance of grid communities in the fight against modern disease.
Grid interoperability was a hot topic at the conference and in the exhibit hall. The SCÂ’06 Grid Interoperability Workshop featured presentations from nine different grid projects and organizations. Demonstrations of interoperability implementations and prototypes could be viewed at many exhibits, including the HPC interoperability demonstration that spanned companies and institutions in the United States, Europe and Asia.
Familiar names in academic grid computing in the United States and Europe, including Enabling Grids for E-sciencE, Open Science Grid, TeraGrid, UK e-Science, were all present at SCÂ’06. Asian grids also had a large presence at the conference, including JapanÂ’s Grid Technology Research Center and NAREGI, which demonstrated many of their latest achievements in advanced grid programming tools, security and reliability, and applications related to global earth observations and protein construction.
Although many exhibitors demonstrated how they are already using grid systems for their work, the conference also provided non-grid users such as Mark Birkin the chance to investigate how grid technologies could improve their individual projects. Birkin, from the UKÂ’s University of Leeds, was at SCÂ’06 hoping to find a grid-based solution to process calculations needed for his new Â“SimCityÂ” model of the UK population. Users of the program input scenarios, such as Â“add 7 new hospitals in LondonÂ” to the model, and the scenario is then projected 15-20 years into the future to determine the effect on the local population.
Every area of grid technology had a presence at SCÂ’06 and their impact on the future of computing and global communications was clearly demonstrated. Many participants in this yearÂ’s conference are already looking forward to future networking opportunities at SCÂ’07 in Reno, Nevada.
- Helen Thomson, GridPP and GRIDtoday