IISC all set to launch supercomputing mission

IISC all set to launch supercomputing mission

 The National Supercomputing Mission (NSM), to have supercomputers networked between academic and R&D institutions across the country has kicked off with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) ready to roll out the first project under the mega programme.

IITs, the Centres for Development of Advanced Computing (CDACs) and the Indian Institutes of Scientific Education and Research (IISERs) will be networked through supercomputers in order to conduct collaborative research.

IISc researchers will look into applications of supercomputing ranging from materials research to life sciences issues like drug discovery.

IISc officials said the team has identified research areas and is now only awaiting the first instalment of the overall budget. IISc is expecting around Rs 150-250 crore as the initial grant. “The sanction has been given, its only a matter of release of funds,” IISc officials said.

The entire project costs around Rs 4,500 crore which will be utilised to connect national academic and R&D institutions with a grid of 73 high-performance computing facilities. Of the total funds, Rs 2,800 crore will come from the Ministry of Science and Technology and the remaining Rs 1,700 crore from the IT department. As far as supercomputing is concerned, India is ranked at 74, while China holds the first place.

The mission has been conceptualised and is being evolved keeping in view the increasing computing demand of the scientific and academic community in the country, international technology trends and roadmaps, strategic importance and emergence of supercomputing as a benchmark for scientific and technological advancements. These supercomputers will also be networked on the national supercomputing grid over the National Knowledge Network (NKN), a programme of the government which connects academic institutions and R&D labs over a high speed network. The computers will be located mostly in academic institutions, universities and research organisations.

The National Supercomputing Mission was proposed in 2011 by a group of scientists and the planning commission which saw the need to supplement India’s supercomputing capabilities. “But over the years, India’s supercomputing powers have lagged behind other nations. Currently, China, United States, Japan, Switzerland and Germany figure prominently in the list of countries with most supercomputing powers.

Tianhe-2, a Chinese supercomputer, is the fastest in the world with a performance of 33.86 peta-flops per second (quadrillions of calculations per second) according to the November list of Top500, a ranking of supercomputers across the world. Bengaluru will also focus on skill development and lay the groundwork for future supercomputing initiatives,” IISc researchers said.

In the next seven years, supercomputer performance is expected to touch ExaFLOPS (1000 peta flops) level and India will not be behind. The supercomputer grid will be connected on a high speed network that will enable researchers to collaborate easily.

The supercomputing initiative is looking at geo-exploration, finding reserves of oil and gas, astrophysics, disaster management and flood forecasting among other focus areas like drug discovery. The network will comprise three large scale computers, 20 mid-sized supercomputers and 50 lower-end computers. The project is jointly being implemented by the CDAC and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).


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