The National Supercomputing Mission (NSM), a mission to have supercomputers at IITs, the Centres for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DACs) and the Indian Institutes of Scientific Education and Research (IISER’s) has decided to place supercomputers in 73 locations across the country including several in Bengaluru.
Researchers will look into applications of supercomputing ranging from materials research to life sciences issues like drug discovery. The computers will be located mostly in academic institutions, universities and research organisations.
“We will install 73 supercomputers in different parts of the country and all will be linked by a computer grid called Garuda. This is a Rs 4,500-crore scheme in which Rs 2,800 crore will come from the Ministry of Science and Technology and the balance of Rs 1,700 crore from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT),” a top official from the department of Science and Technology said.
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 C-DAC and Indian Institute of Science (IISc).
The mission has been conceptualised and 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 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 a list of the 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.