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 Coming soon: superfast internet

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Chibuike
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:36 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
From The Sunday Times
April 6, 2008

Coming soon: superfast internet

Jonathan Leake, Science Editor

THE internet could soon be made obsolete. The scientists who pioneered it have now built a lightning-fast replacement capable of downloading entire feature films within seconds.

At speeds about 10,000 times faster than a typical broadband connection, the grid will be able to send the entire Rolling Stones back catalogue from Britain to Japan in less than two seconds.

The latest spin-off from Cern, the particle physics centre that created the web, the grid could also provide the kind of power needed to transmit holographic images; allow instant online gaming with hundreds of thousands of players; and offer high-definition video telephony for the price of a local call.

David Britton, professor of physics at Glasgow University and a leading figure in the grid project, believes grid technologies could revolutionise society. With this kind of computing power, future generations will have the ability to collaborate and communicate in ways older people like me cannot even imagine, he said.

The power of the grid will become apparent this summer after what scientists at Cern have termed their red button day - the switching-on of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the new particle accelerator built to probe the origin of the universe. The grid will be activated at the same time to capture the data it generates.

Cern, based near Geneva, started the grid computing project seven years ago when researchers realised the LHC would generate annual data equivalent to 56m CDs - enough to make a stack 40 miles high.

This meant that scientists at Cern - where Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the web in 1989 - would no longer be able to use his creation for fear of causing a global collapse.

This is because the internet has evolved by linking together a hotchpotch of cables and routing equipment, much of which was originally designed for telephone calls and therefore lacks the capacity for high-speed data transmission.

By contrast, the grid has been built with dedicated fibre optic cables and modern routing centres, meaning there are no outdated components to slow the deluge of data. The 55,000 servers already installed are expected to rise to 200,000 within the next two years.

Professor Tony Doyle, technical director of the grid project, said: We need so much processing power, there would even be an issue about getting enough electricity to run the computers if they were all at Cern. The only answer was a new network powerful enough to send the data instantly to research centres in other countries.

That network, in effect a parallel internet, is now built, using fibre optic cables that run from Cern to 11 centres in the United States, Canada, the Far East, Europe and around the world.

One terminates at the Rutherford Appleton laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire.

From each centre, further connections radiate out to a host of other research institutions using existing high-speed academic networks.

It means Britain alone has 8,000 servers on the grid system so that any student or academic will theoretically be able to hook up to the grid rather than the internet from this autumn.

Ian Bird, project leader for Cerns high-speed computing project, said grid technology could make the internet so fast that people would stop using desktop computers to store information and entrust it all to the internet.

It will lead to whats known as cloud computing, where people keep all their information online and access it from anywhere, he said.

Computers on the grid can also transmit data at lightning speed. This will allow researchers facing heavy processing tasks to call on the assistance of thousands of other computers around the world. The aim is to eliminate the dreaded frozen screen experienced by internet users who ask their machine to handle too much information.

The real goal of the grid is, however, to work with the LHC in tracking down natures most elusive particle, the Higgs boson. Predicted in theory but never yet found, the Higgs is supposed to be what gives matter mass.

The LHC has been designed to hunt out this particle - but even at optimum performance it will generate only a few thousand of the particles a year. Analysing the mountain of data will be such a large task that it will keep even the grids huge capacity busy for years to come.

Although the grid itself is unlikely to be directly available to domestic internet users, many telecoms providers and businesses are already introducing its pioneering technologies. One of the most potent is so-called dynamic switching, which creates a dedicated channel for internet users trying to download large volumes of data such as films. In theory this would give a standard desktop computer the ability to download a movie in five seconds rather than the current three hours or so.

Additionally, the grid is being made available to dozens of other academic researchers including astronomers and molecular biologists.

It has already been used to help design new drugs against malaria, the mosquito-borne disease that kills 1m people worldwide each year. Researchers used the grid to analyse 140m compounds - a task that would have taken a standard internet-linked PC 420 years.

Projects like the grid will bring huge changes in business and society as well as science, Doyle said.

Holographic video conferencing is not that far away. Online gaming could evolve to include many thousands of people, and social networking could become the main way we communicate.

The history of the internet shows you cannot predict its real impacts but we know they will be huge.





Shocked

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FireWyrm
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:45 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

You're a bit late for April Fools....

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:51 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

No joke: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article3689881.ece

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FireWyrm
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:01 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Future shock here we come...

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:54 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Chibuike wrote:
This meant that scientists at Cern - where Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the web in 1989



Shocked I thought Al Gore invented the inter-web. Laughing
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:23 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Hmmm. I'm one of the UK users who lives in an area where the top speed is 1 MBps.
They can stick their grid up their butts and just give me the 8MBps that everyone else is meant to be getting and I'll be happy. Mad

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:26 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

If you didnt live in the boonies, you'd be getting 20megs off Virgin....

and to think that not so long ago, I would tolerate sitting there for an hour downloading a song off Napster via a 56K modem. I used to think myself lucky if I could leech from a T1 in the States...

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"SCHOOLS FOR THE DEAF/DUMPS" - Frank
"I will not live long since my ailment has defiled all forms of medical treatment" - Victoria
PLEASE IGNORE ANY FURTHER MESSAGE FROM CHARLES OR WHATEVER FOR GOODNESS SAKE.!!! - FRANK AGAIN
so how do you want me to beat trust in you now??? (I think I've annoyed him - Frank again)


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Last edited by FireWyrm on Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:29 pm; edited 1 time in total
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chevyk10darlin
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:28 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

well, in the town i used to live in, all you could do was dial up, there was no solution for faster internet and all we got through dial up was 28.8 kbps if we were lucky...
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Rodus
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:31 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

well where I used to live we had to run a piece of string with a tin can at either end to the exchange and counted ourselves lucky if we got 1k/month, it was great until birds ate it Sad

Seriously though, not a week goes by when we don't hear some great idea about faster internet, fiber optic cables through the sewers, etc. It may hit the big cities in 5-6 years but for the rest of us, we're stuck on DSL for the forseable future. Anyway, a massive number of servers couldn't cope with that kind of speed. Not all servers are multicore CPU's. There are people using 486's and Mac IIvx's as servers and they would just crumble under a massive data surge.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:42 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I react to this article much as I react whenever I read that IPv6 is going to enable all network devices to have their own unique static IP address, so subnetting and NAT will be a thing of the past, and we'll all be happier forevermore. Sure, it sounds great, but who's going to implement the switchover?

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Chibuike
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 12:07 am Reply with quoteBack to top

What I am wondering if the Lads will have a special place on the grid and will we be able to find them? Can you imagine the number of spam emails they can send in two minutes? A kazillion! :yikes:

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 1:32 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Reads awfully like they have now invented SkyNet re Terminator

Beware the machines ARE coming!

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 1:35 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Rodus wrote:
well where I used to live we had to run a piece of string with a tin can at either end to the exchange and counted ourselves lucky if we got 1k/month, it was great until birds ate it Sad

That's now't - we had to shout - loudly Laughing

Seriously though, not a week goes by when we don't hear some great idea about faster internet, fiber optic cables through the sewers, etc. It may hit the big cities in 5-6 years but for the rest of us, we're stuck on DSL for the forseable future. Anyway, a massive number of servers couldn't cope with that kind of speed. Not all servers are multicore CPU's. There are people using 486's and Mac IIvx's as servers and they would just crumble under a massive data surge.


See above Arrow

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 11:00 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
This will allow researchers facing heavy processing tasks to call on the assistance of thousands of other computers around the world.

Botnet!

So, do we hope that they will have some safeguards to protect everyone from it just becoming a huge botnet?
And all our data stored on the 'Grid'? I bet that'll be nice and secure as well....

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Chibuike
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 11:13 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I can see the scifi movies now. People rebel against the grid and hide their old pc's and have a renegade internet system to bypass the grid from controlling their lives. Damn good Hollywood material. Laughing

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 11:18 am Reply with quoteBack to top

slowfreddie makes an excellent and worrying point. Data protection is dodgy enough as it is but can you imagine the damage that could be done with a botnet on high speed lines. Anyone who couldn't afford to upgrade their own servers/connection could be DDOS'd on a massive scale and the hackers wouldn't break a sweat, you'd need far less machines to do it. Spamming would also go through the roof.

@Chibuike, you could build your own internet using GPRS and relays. Wouldn't be very quick or secure though Laughing

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 11:58 am Reply with quoteBack to top

JonCris wrote:
Reads awfully like they have now invented SkyNet re Terminator

Beware the machines ARE coming!
my thought exactly Shocked

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