MCNC is launching a set of enterprise grid computing services, calling it the next generation of computing resources, and these will be made available for research to universities and commercial businesses.

Academic users can use the computing resources for research at no charge through the end of the year. The services represent the first contribution to a planned statewide grid infrastructure by MCNC Grid Computing & Networking Services.

MCNC anticipates that researchers and businesses will use the grid resources for a variety of tasks, including molecular modeling, fluid dynamics, gene analysis, weather modeling, data modeling, and data mining.

Already, RTP-based MCNC has deployed the N.C. BioGrid, which it says is to ensure North Carolina has access to cost-effective, advanced computing and communications services. The BioGrid, established in 2001, is a test bed for grid-enabled biotechnology research. MCNC says it has used its experience from the BioGrid project to plan broader grid infrastructures.

MCNC is also planning with the University of North Carolina Office of the President for a statewide grid network for the state’s higher education community. The intent is to deploy grid technologies using the existing statewide N.C. Research and Education Network, operated by MCNC.

The move to the grid follows MCNC’s decision to move away from supercomputing, turning its machines over to unviversities. An IBM supercomputer was returned to the company under an option included in a lease agreement.

The statewide grid will link computing and data resources from multiple institutions in multiple locations with the potential to increase the resources available to individual institutions. When complete, North Carolina will be one of the first states in the nation to deploy a statewide grid infrastructure.

“A core mission of MCNC is to provide research and development resources beyond the major metropolitan areas of North Carolina, where many of the advanced computing resources already exist,” said David Rizzo, president and chief executive officer of MCNC. “The outer reaches of the state that have traditionally been underserved will receive significant benefits. The result should be greater levels of innovation, the creation of more intellectual property and more businesses started with local entrepreneurial leadership.”