Bangalore tops in supercomputer race

Last Updated 12 January 2014, 19:09 IST

Bangalore is the supercomputer capital of India. The new list released in December 2013 by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) revealed that Bangalore has seven supercomputers, pipping Pune that has six. 

Bangalore has beaten Mumbai and Chennai with both cities having just one and two top supercomputers respectively, and even Delhi, which has four if Noida is taken as part of the Delhi region. Hyderabad is doing well too, having four supercomputers in the top-33 list. 

The combined supercomputing of the country is now  2.97 petaflops, while the average performance in the list is about 90 teraflops. 

The performance criterion for drawing the list is a minimum of 10 teraflops performance. The first seven supercomputers also figure in the world top 500 supercomputers’ list. 

Bangalore now has the third fastest supercomputer in the country at the CSIR Fourth Paradigm Institute (CSIR-4PI), a HP machine which performs at 362.09 teraflops. 

The most powerful supercomputer is at Pune’s Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, and the second most powerful supercomputer is also at Pune’s Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC). 

The IISc has three IBM supercomputers – at the Department of Physics, the Supercomputer Education and Research and another at the Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. Bangalore’s Aeronautical Development Agency too has two HP supercomputers, while the CSIR Fourth Paradigm Institute has one more other than the one in Top 10.

In December 2012, Bangalore had four of 26 supercomputers, and in December 2011, when Pune was the topper, the City had five of 21 supercomputers. 

In December 2011, the combined peak performance was 404.71 teraflops, while in December 2012, the combined performance was 1.09 petaflops, while currently it is 2.97 petaflops. Within Bangalore, the IISc is the leader with three supercomputers.

Scientists at the IISc told Deccan Herald that the supercomputers serve in varied domains – analysing and predicting weather and climate, making minute calculations in biology, aerospace, mathematics, chemistry, oceanography, meteorology and defence. 

There are innumerable calculations to be made in achieving accuracy in developing a fighter aircraft or to understand why the cellular pathways in the body are blocked – such complex fields require very high supercomputing powers that would save time and energy, and effectively enhance the speed of research projects. 

Bangalore has a minimum of 10 science centres of research and specialised institutes that explains the high number of supercomputers in the City. Bangalore is now known as IT city, but for decades it has been known as India’s science city, though Pune, Hyderabad and Delhi come close to claiming that status, as they too have top-notch science institutions. Prof C N R Rao recently declared that three more supercomputers would be coming to Bangalore under a new policy to further push up India’s supercomputing power. Rao says India’s supercomputers must be as powerful as China’s for India to be taken more seriously in computing domain on the world stage. 

The country is spending Rs 10,000 crore to set up next generation supercomputers in Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad. Work in Bangalore has begun and it has been decided to place the new supercomputer at the IISc.

The Chinese supercomputer Tihane-2 is the most powerful supercomputer in the world. Developed at China’s National University of Defense Technology, it can reach speeds of 33.86 petaflop per second — quadrillions of calculations per second. The US-based Titan, a Cray XK7 system installed at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory, comes second at 17.59 petaflop/s worth of computing power. Sequoia, an IBM BlueGene/Q system installed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US, is third with 17.17 petaflop/s. 

The US remains the leading consumer of supercomputers, with 265 of the top 500 systems, up from 253. China is the second largest consumer of supercomputers, leaving Japan in the third position. 

(Published 12 January 2014, 19:09 IST)

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