Media Grid Takes Step Forward

By Nicole Hemsoth

July 31, 2006

The Grid Institute announced that Sun Microsystems is collaborating with the MediaGrid.org open standards group to advance international standards for storing, delivering and processing digital media in Grid computing environments. In addition to this collaboration, Dan Hushon, Sun Grid senior director and chief technologist, has been appointed a one-year fellowship to participate in the development of international Media Grid standards.

A key component of the collaboration is the seamless connection of Sun Microsystems' on-demand Sun Grid compute utility to the public Media Grid network, enabling Media Grid service requests and jobs to be handled by Sun Grid. In addition to increasing the quality of service and overall performance of the Media Grid network, “gatewaying” to Sun Grid will also have a direct and positive influence on related MediaGrid.org standards.

“We look forward to collaborating with Sun Microsystems and the Sun Grid team to develop a new generation of Grid-based digital media infrastructure and application standards,” said Aaron E. Walsh, director of the Grid Institute's MediaGrid.org standards organization. “Connecting Media Grid and Sun Grid will have an immediate impact on open Grid Gateway standards by providing a significant real-world gateway implementation and corresponding technical specifications, upon which Media Grid application standards — such as those for rendering, gaming and virtual reality — ultimately build.”

“Sun's participation in the Grid Institute allows us to collaborate with some of the brightest researchers, technologists, vendors and customers in evolving standards together with a basis in real business,” said Aisling MacRunnels, senior director of utility computing for Sun. “The extensible platform delivered by the combined Media Grid and Sun Grid will enable the media and entertainment, health care, aerospace and education markets to complete a wide range of applications not possible with today's computational limitations. As these industries expand their technical capabilities, Sun will contribute its Grid computing expertise to help translate these emerging, real-world uses of a Grid- based digital media infrastructure into open standards for the storage, delivery and processing of digital media.”

Sun Grid researchers and technologists will contribute to the design and development of open Media Grid standards through the following MediaGrid.org technology working groups: Grid Gateway Technology Group (GGTG); Quality of Service Technology Group (QOSTG); Media Storage Technology Group (MSTG); Media Processing Technology Group (MPTG); Media Delivery Technology Group (MDTG); Rendering Technology Group (RTG); Gaming Technology Group (GTG); and the Virtual Reality Technology Group (VRTG).

Sun's MediaGrid.org membership was officially announced during Boston's Siggraph Summit on July 30. The summit — an invitation-only event hosted and sponsored by the Grid Institute, the Woods College of Advancing Studies at Boston College and the City of Boston — had a theme of “The Intersection of Digital Media and Supercomputing,” and featured presentations by leading researchers, inventors, and pioneers in the fields of interactive digital media and high-performance computing. Presentations were given by representatives from several media companies and Media Grid partners, including Synthespian Studios, Media Machines, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, University of Aizu (Japan), Computerworld, M.I.T. Media Lab, Turner Broadcasting and the Grid Institute, as well Sun's Hushon.

An award-winning technologist and distributed computing evangelist, Hushon is the architect of numerous distributed and high-performance computing solutions with a focus on federated massive scale and maintenance of deterministic performance. As a fellow of the Grid Institute, Hushon will participate in the design and development of digital media utility computing standards as an invited expert of the Quality of Service Technology, Grid Gateway Technology, Rendering Technology and Gaming Technology working groups.

“I've actually worked with Dan on a technical basis, connecting the Media Grid to the Sun Grid, for a couple of months … and the reason he was appointed was his technical depth and his experience in the field,” said Walsh. “We actually have a lot in common and have very similar views on how the Media Grid and the Sun Grid should work together, and Grid computing in general. Given that relationship, and the obvious synergy between Sun Grid and Media Grid, we decided to appoint him to this fellowship.”

In response to his fellowship appointment, Hushon remarked, “I'm excited about the vision Media Grid shares in the establishment of standards for utility computing marketplaces. The Media Grid is certainly bringing together the right kinds of partners — researchers, technologists, vendors and customers — to establish these standards.”

The Media Grid is a public utility for digital media. As an on-demand public computing utility, a range of software programs and Web sites can use the Media Grid for delivery and storage of rich media content, media processing and computing power. The Media Grid supports Quality of Service, broadcast capabilities, military-grade security, distributed parallel processing and advanced rendering features. Together, these features create a novel software development platform designed specifically for networked applications that produce or consume massive quantities of media and media-related data. Some applications suited to run on the Media Grid include: Massive Media on Demand (MMoD); interactive digital cinema on demand; immersive education and distance learning; truly immersive multiplayer games and virtual reality; Hollywood movie and film rendering, special effects and composition; real-time rendering of high resolution graphics; real-time visualization of complex weather patterns; real – time protein modeling and drug design; telepresence, telemedicine and telesurgery; vehicle and aircraft design and simulation; and visualization of scientific and medical data.

The Grid Institute leads the design and development of the global Media Grid through the MediaGrid.org open standards organization in collaboration with industry, academia and governments from around the world.

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