SPECIAL THEME: GRIDS e-Science to e-Business
ERCIM News No.45 - April 2001 [contents]

Italian Initiatives in Grid Computing

by Bruno Codenotti and Domenico Laforenza

There is increasing interest in Grid Computing in Italy. This is reflected by the growing number of projects in this area. We describe some projects now underway in two major Italian research institutions: the Italian National Research Council (CNR) and the Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN).

Ongoing work at CNR
The actions related to Grid Computing involving CNR are a natural evolution of the PQE2000 project. This project, started at the end of 1995, has involved well-known groups working in three Italian research agencies (CNR, ENEA, INFN) and one industrial company (Quadrics Supercomputers World Ltd). A list of mature proposals includes:

The INFN GRID Project
INFN has recently approved a 3 year project, involving a total of 70 FTE’s between physicists and computing professionals and a budget of ~ 9MEuro, to develop a Grid infrastructure that will allow INFN users a transparent and effective usage of the computing and storage resources distributed in the 26 INFN nodes of the Italian research network GARR-B.

The INFN national GRID infrastructure will be integrated with similar testbeds being established by ongoing parallel efforts in all major European countries, in US and Japan.

The overall scale of the computational, storage and networking capacity of the prototype INFN GRID testbed is determined by the needs of the LHC experiments. These include experimental activities for physics, trigger and detector studies, and the run of applications at a large enough scale to test the scalability of the distributed computing approaches for solving problems requiring a very large amount of distributed data (PetaBytes), a very large amount of CPU’s (thousands) and many of users.

The development of the new software components underlying the GRID technology will be done by the INFN GRID project, whenever possible, in collaboration with international partners. Recently the DATAGRID international project, where INFN is one of 6 main contractors, was approved and funded with 10 MEuro by the European Union IST program EU-RN2.

The INFN GRID project will investigate the current ideas for the computing models of the LHC experiments, based on a multi-tier architecture of Regional Centers. The investigation will be performed using real applications on real center prototypes, fulfilling at the same time the effective computing needs of the experiments.

The project will be instrumental to the diffusion and the common development of the GRID technologies with other Italian scientific research sectors (ESA/ESRIN, CNR, Universities), addressing the following points:

In parallel to these activities, an additional budget line of ~20 MEuro is being established to implement a multi-experiment INFN Computing Center that will act as the main node of the INFN Grid.

The INFN-GRID Project provides the framework for efficiently connecting:

The currently approved DATAGRID project only required EU funds for the middleware development. The “testbed” and “HEP application” aspects are taken care of in two separate Workpackages. These workpackages require no EU funds for hardware and are just meant to provide for the human resources needed for the integration within the collaboration-wide activities. The INFN GRID will make available both the h/w and the extra manpower required for setting up and running the local prototypes and physics applications.

Please contact:
Bruno Codenotti - IMC-CN
Tel: +39 050 315 2401
E-Mail: codenotti@imc.pi.cnr.it

Domenico Laforenza - CNUCE-CNR
Tel: +39 050 315 2992
E-mail: domenico.laforenza@cnuce.cnr.it