Good news for Grid enthusiasts, which might also indirectly include the few in business who actually see a useful application for the technology. The US National Science Foundation (NSF) last week dipped into its funding kitty and come up with $148 million to keep something called the “Extensible Terascale Facility” – or TeraGrid - going for another five years.

Started in 2001, TeraGrid is an impressive-sounding project to interconnect a number of supercomputers based at US universities. It has already consumed $98 million in funding in a number of tranches, so the latest sum gives the whole project a critical degree of stability in which to demonstrate its benefits.

The problem with Grid concept has never been the underlying principle of turning high-end computing into a ubiquitous resource, but the applications to run on top of this infrastructure. These have overwhelmingly favoured science – or science-based business - rather than mainstream business.

The barrier is that applications have to be rewritten to work in a Grid-oriented manner, something nobody wants to invest in yet until the advantages become blindingly obvious.

The TeraGrid is an exotic in a humdrum world, but that’s the nature of complex science these days. It shouldn’t necessarily be taken an indication that Grid is nearing the mainstream.

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