From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Param Ananta Supercomputer
Mains level : National Supercomputing Mission
Param Ananta, a state-of the art Supercomputer was commissioned at IIT Gandhinagar.
- Param Ananta is capable of offering peak performance of 838 teraflops.
- It is a joint initiative of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Department of Science and Technology (DST).
- This facility is established under Phase 2 of the National Supercomputing Mission (NSM).
- The system is equipped with a mix of CPU nodes, GPU nodes, High Memory nodes, High throughput storage and high performance Infiniband.
- The supercomputer will rank behind C-DAC’s Param Siddhi-AI, which as of November 2021 was the 102nd most powerful supercomputer in the world — with peak performance capability of 3.3 petaflops.
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 (peta FLOPS).
- Since November 2017, all of the world’s fastest 500 supercomputers run Linux-based operating systems.
- Param Ananta system is based on Direct Contact Liquid Cooling technology to obtain a high power usage effectiveness and thereby reducing the operational cost.
- Multiple applications from various scientific domains such as Weather and Climate, Bioinformatics, Computational Chemistry, Molecular Dynamics, Material Sciences, Computational Fluid Dynamics etc. have been installed on the system for the benefit of researchers.
- This high end computing system will be a great value addition for the research community.
Back2Basics: 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 increasing 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 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.
When did India initiate its efforts to build supercomputers?
- India’s supercomputer program was 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.
What are the phases of the National Supercomputing Mission?
- In the first phase of the NSM, parts of the supercomputers are imported and assembled in India.
- A total of 6 supercomputers are to be installed in this phase.
- The first supercomputer that was assembled indigenously is called Param Shivay. It was installed in IIT (BHU) located in Varanasi.
- Similar systems, Param Shakti (IIT Kharagpur) and Param Brahma (IISER, Pune) were also later installed within the country.
- The rest will be installed at IIT Kanpur, IIT Hyderabad and Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advanced Studies (JNIAS).
- The supercomputers that are installed so far are about 60% indigenous.
- The 11 systems that are going to be installed in the next phase will have processors designed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and will have a cumulative capacity of 10 petaflops.
- These new systems are to be constructed more cost-effectively than the previous ones.
- One of the 11 proposed supercomputers will be installed
- at C-DAC exclusively for small and medium enterprises so that they can train employees as well as work on supercomputers at a very low cost.
- The third phase aims to build fully indigenous supercomputers.
- The government had also approved a project to develop a cryogenic cooling system that rapidly dispels the heat generated by a computing chip. This will be jointly built together by IIT-Bombay and C-DAC.