37 national projects have joined forces to set up a European Grid Initiative - a distributed computing network - that will enable laboratories to collaborate via thousands of computers merged into one supercomputer.
A European project will bring together national experts in order to set up the design of a European Grid Infrastructure. The "EGI-Design Study", running from September 2007 to December 2009, will rely on National Grid Infrastrcture (NGI) and its ultimate objective is to initiate the construction of the European Grid Initiative (EGI). The aim of the EGI is to enable European scientists and researchers to benefit fully from grid network technology.
Typically, grid networks consist of thousands of computers merged into one supercomputer, used to perform computing tasks on very large data sets, which are broken down into smaller portions.
While national grid initiatives already provide local connectivity and resources to researchers, the EGI will enable pan-European scientific collaboration via the connection of thousands of computers in universities and research laboratories.
The new EU initiative, making accessing resources on widely-distributed computers as easy as acessing those on the user's own desktop, is expected to have a major impact on society by changing the way scientists work.
For example, in order to tackle the recent outbreak of avian flu, scientists needed to accelerate their research into possible new drugs, and the existing e-infrastructure allowed an international group of researchers to test a huge number of drugs in a very short period of time.