EC funds grid computing project

The European Commission has announced that it will provide €25 million of funding to a pan-European grid computing project.

Designed to speed intensive computing tasks without the need for a bulky, expensive, energy-draining supercomputer, the European Grid Initiative works in a similar way to other grid computing projects like BOINC or Folding@Home. A small client runs on a desktop PC and uses spare CPU cycles to crunch a small part of a large project.

Times those spare CPU cycles on that mid-range desktop by the 200,000 systems currently part of the grid and you've got yourself a supercomputer - albeit one with its component pieces scattered across 300 sites in Europe.

Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda - yes, that's his real job title - Neelie Kroes, said that the project, "will help strengthen Europe's hand in research and give our scientists the support they need, whilst saving energy and cutting costs" compared to traditional super-computing solutions.

The European Grid Initiative joins the existing Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe, or PRACE, initiative which was founded to give researchers access to supercomputers located throughout Europe.

The Commission has agreed to stump up €25 million over a period of four years to back the project, while additional funding from sources including European member nations' National Grid Initiatives will take the total budget up to €73 million.

The European Grid Initiative is already live, with an estimated 13,000 researchers tapping in to its power daily in order to conduct research in fields as disparate as physical sciences and biology to social sciences and analytics.