NTT, others start distributed computing test in Japan

NTT Data Corp. launched a distributed computing trial in cooperation with IBM Corp., Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corp. (NTT East) on Friday in Japan, the company said.

Distributed computing can create a virtual supercomputer by dividing a task into pieces and repeatedly sending a part of the task to PCs in many different locations on the Internet. Each PC processes distributed data only when it is in screensaver mode and sends back that data to a main server each time it finishes its calculation.

The trial involves several hundred thousand computers from households and corporations and will work on two themes: analysis of repeating genetic patterns for medical applications and analysis of the optical properties of photonic crystals, materials expected to be used in future microprocessors. The trial will run until March 20, NTT Data said in a statement.

The company on Friday started inviting PC users from households and corporations to download special software from A participant’s PC needs to run the Windows operating system and have more than 128M bytes of memory and a 1G-byte or larger hard disk drive, the company said.

After installing the software, a user signs up for membership and logs in. The PC gets a block of data from NTT Data’s central server over the Internet, analyzes the data and reports the results back to the server. The central server is provided by IBM, and NTT Data developed its middleware with U.S.-based United Devices Inc., the company said.

NTT Data hopes to sell distributed computing services to corporations as a result of this trial, according to Yoshinori Munakata, a spokesman for NTT Data.

The company originally planned to start a six-month trial involving 1 million PCs in mid-2002 with Intel, NTT East and Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI). The trial’s processing power was expected to be around 65 teraflops (trillions of floating-point operations per second).

As the trial has been reduced in scale, NTT Data is not sure how much processing power the resulting grid will achieve, Munakata said.