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The computing infrastructure Grid'5000 soon to be hosted at the Mines de Nantes

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The experiment network will soon be extended, with the Ecole des Mines de Nantes hosting nodes for the Grid'5000. This highlights the position of the school in the area of distributed computing.

The growth of the internet, the social network boom, the exchange of increasingly large files..... Specialists all over the world have been focussing their attention on network architecture and how the computing networks operate. Finding a way of using computing capacity as easily as electricity – known as 'utility computing' – would seem to be the number one priority. But where to start ? One idea would be to use a network of supercomputing clusters, to create a very powerful kind of virtual computer.

Shared infrastructures have been used since 1995, particularly in the United States, to work on subjects such as energy, hydrology, genomics... Some of these networks group together a large number of "cores" (or servers, each one having any number of PCs - today there can be more than 500,000 on one site alone). In France, in 2003, Rennes, Grenoble and Lyon set up the first platform designed to be a scientific tool for disciplines which require a great deal of computing power - such as genomics, bioinformatics or meteorology... That is how Grid'5000 came into existence, a collaborative project set up by INRIA and the CNRS, funded by several regional councils. Today, Grid'5000 groups together 7,896 "cores" in France, spread over nine sites, with the Ecole des Mines de Nantes ready to become the tenth. Everything is connected by fibre optic linking on the Renater network. In 2012, Grid'5000, which has extended to Brazil, Japan and the Netherlands, was awarded the status of GIS (scientific interest group) – which will qualify it to receive a number of grants.


International recognition


Over a period of ten years, Grid'5000 has become the number one distributed computing network supporting experiment-driven research in Europe. According to Adrien Lèbre, associate professor in the computer science department, and member of the consortium steering committee "This model is now internationally recognised, and distributed computing has become the norm. Even the United States, which had given up on this approach for a number of years, has gone back to working on the grid."

The new site in Nantes should increase the network capacity, by providing another 288 "cores" There are now six engineers working on the project full-time. "Nantes undoubtedly has considerable savoir-faire in terms of managing virtual infrastructures, says Adrien Lèbre. Another area with a lot of scope is energy management in data centres, given their vast amount of energy consumption, so green energy sources are being considered, in order to reduce the carbon "footprint". The solutions being investigated consist mainly in distributing the computing in order to free up certain "nodes" when they are not being used, and also to use the waste heat produced for generating cold, depending on the thermal characteristics of the site. The school is involved in the project for main two reasons : "It means that we have a say in how the consortium operates, and that in turn puts us in a position where we can promote the choice of particular themes for research that interest us.", says the associate professor. Not to mention the doctoral student and students taking computing electives, who are in a perfect postion to access the network, and make the most of any advances made. Last December, the computer science department at the Mines de Nantes was host to the Grid'5000 seminar, where 70 scientists and researchers came from all over Europe.


To find out more about Grid’5000 :

Energy consumption problems in data centres :

The 500 most powerful machines in the world: http://www.top500.orgAn example in Japan, the K Computer (3rd most powerful machine in the world ):

Création site internet : Agence web Images Créations