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Garbled Grid Hype

There has been some rather confused coverage in the press about the grid infrastructure that supports the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. The Times has an article that cast the grid as a "superfast internet", with the emphasis on the high-bandwidth links that have been laid to support the LHC data dispersal. It also talks about the numbers of servers connected to the LHC grid, but without clarifying the distinction between bandwidth and processing power. It also implies that the LHC grid is the only grid, which perhaps we can forgive the journalists for, as plenty of technical people still refer to "the grid" as if there were only one.

A Yahoo article, taken from Sky News, goes rather further, claiming that "the internet, as we know it, could be obsolete within a decade". The phrase, "as we know it", lends a wonderful vagueness to the claim. The article goes on to say that the Grid was the brainchild of CERN, which of course is an exaggeration. On the technical side, this article is possibly better, describing the LHC grid as a linked network of computers and describing some of the applications that it has been used for. There's just one paragraph where the illustration of bandwidth has been taken rather literally and expounded as if every household will have such connectivity, which is a separate issue.

I'm sure that none of the inaccuracies are the fault of the people mentioned in the articles. Journalists need to tell a story snappily and with an "angle" that will interest their audience. But the grid community need to do a better job of telling people what grids are about. We are doing our bit by producing some new material for Grid Computing Now!, which should be on the web site shortly.


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