From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : NSM, Supercomputing
Mains level : National Supercomputing Mission
The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) has launched the second phase of the ambitious National Supercomputing Mission (NSM).
Tap to read more about National Supercomputing Mission (NSM):
National Supercomputing Mission (NSM)
- NSM is a proposed plan by GoI to create a cluster of seventy supercomputers connecting various academic and research institutions across India.
- In April 2015 the government approved the NSM with a total outlay of Rs.4500 crore for a period of 7 years.
- The mission was set up to provide the country with supercomputing infrastructure to meet the increased computational demands of academia, researchers, MSMEs, and startups by creating the capability design, manufacturing, of supercomputers indigenously in India.
- Currently, there are four supercomputers from India in the Top 500 list of supercomputers in the world.
Aims and objectives
- The target of the mission was set to establish a network of supercomputers ranging from a few Tera Flops (TF) to Hundreds of Tera Flops (TF) and three systems with greater than or equal to 3 Peta Flops (PF) in academic and research institutions of National importance across the country by 2022.
- This network of Supercomputers envisaging a total of 15-20 PF was approved in 2015 and was later revised to a total of 45 PF (45000 TFs), a jump of 6 times more compute power within the same cost and capable of solving large and complex computational problems.
What is a Supercomputer?
- A supercomputer is a computer with a high level of performance as compared to a general-purpose computer.
- The performance of a supercomputer is commonly measured in floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) instead of million instructions per second (MIPS).
- Since 2017, there are supercomputers which can perform over a hundred quadrillion FLOPS (petaFLOPS).
- Since November 2017, all of the world’s fastest 500 supercomputers run Linux-based operating systems.
Why do we need supercomputers?
- Tackle problems: Developed and almost-developed countries have begun ensuring high investments in supercomputers to boost their economies and tackle new social problems.
- These high-performance computers can simulate the real world, by processing massive amounts of data, making cars and planes safer, and more fuel-efficient and environment-friendly.
- They also aid in the extraction of new sources of oil and gas, development of alternative energy sources, and advancement in medical sciences.
- Disaster Management: Supercomputers have also helped weather forecasters to accurately predict severe storms, enable better mitigation planning and warning systems.
- They are also used by financial services, manufacturing and internet companies and infrastructure systems like water-supply networks, energy grids, and transportation.
- Future applications of artificial intelligence (AI) also depend on supercomputing.
- Due to the potential of this technology, countries like the US, China, France, Germany, Japan, and Russia have created national-level supercomputing strategies and are investing substantially in these programmes.
When did India initiate its efforts to build supercomputers?
- India’s supercomputer programme initiated in the late 1980s, when the United States ceased the export of a Cray Supercomputer due to technology embargos.
- This resulted in India setting up C-DAC in 1988, which in 1991, unveiled the prototype of PARAM 800, benchmarked at 5 Gflops. This supercomputer was the second-fastest in the world at that time.
- Since June 2018, the USA’s Summit is the fastest supercomputer in the world, taking away this position from China.
- As of January 2018, Pratyush and Mihir are the fastest supercomputers in India with a maximum speed of Peta Flops.