This is a virtual metacomputer
whose individual processors are widely distributed clusters and whose mass storage systems are large distributed repositories of scientific data fed by scientific instruments in close to real time.
Networked scientific computing systems will enable scientists to view networked hardware and software resources as a single virtual metacomputer
. Collaborating intelligent agents locate, combine and invoke the resources needed to solve the given problem.
Smarr envisions the development of a national "metacomputer
" -- an array of different types of computers linked by a high-speed, high-capacity network to act as a single computer.
Nanotechnology, Electronic Publishing
The goal is to make this national-scale metacomputer
as usable as standalone supercomputers were during the past decade.
The Grid could evolve into a national-scale metacomputer
for everyone, but first comes integration of its networking, distributed computing, scheduling, Web and Java programming, security, and visualization.
Plans for linking them to form a national-scale metacomputer
are discussed by Stevens in this issue.
The result will be a distributed, heterogeneous metacomputer
distinguished not by the computers and networks it encompasses but by its global software environment, such as the Condor  and Globus  systems (see Stevens et al.
The vision of a seamless metacomputer
is not novel; worldwide computers have been the vision of science fiction writers and distributed systems researchers for decades.
The computing resources transparently available to the user via this networked environment have been called a metacomputer
. The metacomputer
is a network of heterogeneous, computational resources linked by software in such a way that they can be used as easily as a personal computer.
"In effect, they were creating metacomputers
to solve large-scale problems.