Industry News

IBM and China's Ministry of Education Launch 'China Grid'

Giant Education and Research Grid Capable of 15 Trillion Calculations Per Second BEIJING, CHINA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 13-10-2003 -- IBM and China's Ministry of Education announced they have begun using grid technology to enable universities across the country to collaborate on research, scientific and education projects. This is one of the world's largest implementations of Grid computing -- which takes untapped application, data and computing resources from different computing systems and makes them available where and when they're needed, resulting in a single, virtual system.

The China Education and Research Grid -- the most ambitious grid project by a government to date -- is being launched this month with six universities, and will link more than 200,000 students and faculty members at nearly a hundred universities across China when the project is completed. When phase one of the project is completed in 2005, the grid will perform more than six teraflops, or trillions of calculations per second, and eventually will be capable of more than 15 trillion calculations per second.

The grid relies on new Web services technology in WebSphere -- IBM's industry-leading Internet infrastructure software -- that exploits evolving Open Grid Services Architecture (OGSA) standards. A total of 49 IBM eServer xSeries running Linux have been deployed. It also includes six units of pSeries servers running AIX and IBM TotalStorage FAStT200 servers for storing data.

The China grid will simplify how students and researchers access education and computing resources across China. Universities will be connected to a common virtual hub that automatically finds the appropriate application resources, from life sciences research to video courses and e-learning. China's university system will save on development costs since each school can focus on its area of expertise -- e-learning or life sciences, for example -- and tap into other applications as needed via the grid.

This is the latest example of China's leadership in Grid computing adoption. In July 2003, the City of Shanghai began building a grid, with IBM's help, to integrate information resources spread across the city's municipal government and handle city-wide emergency and medical services management systems.

"Grid computing, and the concept of virtualization at its core, is a key element in building an on demand business," says Dr. George Wang, director, IBM China Software Development Laboratory and IBM China Research and Development Laboratory, IBM Greater China Group. "WebSphere software helps a grid gather untapped computing capabilities and functionalities and make it available to users across the grid as needed. IBM leads Grid computing in China and around the world to help customers realize substantial business benefit by sharing and optimizing their existing IT infrastructure using IBM technologies."

Among the first projects to run on the China grid are:

--  Bioinformatics: This provides an integrated platform for research
    organizations to share computing and data resources and conduct complex
    computational tasks such as protein structural analysis. The Bioinformatics
    Grid system, a cooperative project owned by Key Laboratory of
    Bioinformatics, China Ministry of Education and Tsinghua University, was
    used to help identify the SARS gene and analyze similarities between
    different strains of the SARS virus.
--  Video courses: Peking University's Real Course application provides
    students with speedier access to video courses by distributing information
    through distributed servers.  Students from different universities can
    browse and enroll for courses online from video information deployed at
    disparate servers across the university system.
--  e-learning: The University of Hong Kong e-learning application enables
    students to practice Mandarin through an integrated learning portal.  It
    offers an easy-to-use Web interface that can verify the pronunciation of
    Mandarin characters through voice recognition, and a real-time chatting
    service. Hong Kong residents grow up speaking Cantonese but many began
    studying Mandarin after Hong Kong rejoined mainland China.
Before the grid, universities in China manually wrote proprietary applications that were incompatible from campus to campus and could only be shared across the university network on a limited basis. Each university developed its own suite of applications across research and educational disciplines, resulting in time-consuming and costly duplication of development efforts.

Now, using a grid built on WebSphere, China's universities can organize the vast computational and informational resources of its entire higher educational system into a centralized, Internet-based hub to perform a wide range of complex tasks instantaneously. A specific request -- such as a complex protein-folding computation for infectious disease research -- can be pushed onto the grid, automatically seek out an application at another campus that knows how to handle the computation, and feed it back to the original computer.

IBM Grid computing technology has been deployed in Peking University, South China University of Technology, Tsinghua University, the University of Hong Kong, Xi'an Jiaotong University and Sun Yat-sen University. Other universities involved in phase one of the project are Huazhong University of Science&Technology, Northeast University, Shandong University, Shanghai Jiaotong University and Southeast University.

IBM and the participating universities will establish a Grid Application United R&D Center for the research and development of open grid architecture solutions based on open standards such as OGSA and Web services. IBM will work closely with China's Ministry of Education on implementation, application development and training and also teach students how to develop applications for and manage the grid. The Ministry of Education and universities involved in the grid project also will have advanced access to new grid technologies from IBM.

About IBM China

IBM's involvement in China dates back to 1934, and IBM opened its China office in 1992. Today, IBM China has 14 branch offices, two fully-owned subsidiaries and eight joint ventures. One of IBM's eight research centers is located in China, where more than 300 technical and research talents are developing the latest technology solutions such as pervasive computing and wireless solutions, and IBM's customer services center is the largest of its kind in China.

Laurie Friedman

© 2001 WebScope