For the past five years, the mad scientists at CERN have been connecting their computers to colleagues’ around the world to pool their processing power. This so-called Worldwide Grid turns a regular old desktop into a supercomputer by just plugging in. Now it will do the same with smartphones and tablets.
CERN scientists are in the final stages of a major upgrade to the Worldwide Grid that will enable mobile devices — namely those that run Android — to join the ultra-powerful network. That network is already made up of 200,000 computers from around the globe and has enough horsepower to analyse the 26 million gigabytes of data that CERN’s Large Hadron Collider produces annually. (Note: That’s a lot of data.) “The Grid that we have implemented for physics is a mechanism to allow scientists to share data and collaborate,” CERN’s Ian Bird told The Telegraph. “It brings together disparate resources from around the world so that they are working as if they are single system.”
Think of it this way. The Worldwide Grid is a lot like the World Wide Web, except instead of computers on the network simply sharing files between them, they share resources. That means that Frank Johnson and his 1997 Hewlett Packard minitower could tap into the Grid and suddenly gain the processing power of every other computer that’s connected. So suddenly that old Pentium II can do things that only room-sized computers have been able to do in the past. It’s such an advancement that some are saying the Grid will be the successor to the Web.
Here’s a better analogy. Did you ever watch Voltron back in the 80s? It’s the action packed cartoon where robotic cats all join together to form one giant all-powerful robot that stomps on everything and blasts villains into oblivion. Well, that’s how the Worldwide Grid works… except with fewer lasers. Now that smartphones and tablets are joining it, who knows how powerful this beast could become.