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India emerging as a leader in supercomputing

India is quickly emerging as a leader in high-power computing. The National Super Computing Mission (NSM) is working to meet the increased computational demands of academia, researchers, MSMEs, and start-ups in oil exploration, flood prediction, genomics, and drug discovery.

According to a press release, computing infrastructure has already been installed in four premier institutions and installation work is in rapid progress in nine more. The completion of Phase II of NSM by September 2021 will take the country’s computing power to 16 Petaflops (PF). Memorandums of understanding (MoUs) have been signed with a total of 14 premier institutions of India for establishing supercomputing infrastructure and centres for assembly and manufacturing. These include Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs), National Labs, and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISERs).

Infrastructure planned in NSM Phase I has already been installed and much of Phase II will be in place shortly. Phase III, initiated this year, will take the computing speed to around 45 Petaflops. This will include three systems of 3 PF each and one system of 20PF as a national facility.

NSM was launched to enhance the research capacities and capabilities in the country by connecting them to form a supercomputing grid, with the National Knowledge Network (NKN) as the backbone. The NSM is setting up a grid of supercomputing facilities in academic and research institutions across the country. Part of this is being imported from abroad and partly built indigenously. The mission is being jointly steered by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). It is implemented by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) in Pune and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru.

PARAM Shivay, the first supercomputer assembled indigenously, was installed in IIT (BHU). This was followed by PARAM Shakti, Brahma, Yukti, and Sanganak at IIT-Kharagpur IISER, Pune, JNCASR, Bengaluru, and IIT-Kanpur, respectively.

A new dimension has now been added to India’s goal towards being a global leader in supercomputing with the convergence of high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI). A 200 AI PF supercomputing system has been created and installed in C-DAC, which can handle incredibly large-scale AI workloads increasing the speed of computing related to AI several times. PARAM Siddhi – AI, the HPC-AI supercomputer, ranked 62 among the top 500 most powerful supercomputer systems in the world. So far, the mission has also created next-generation supercomputer experts by training more than 4500 HPC-aware manpower and faculties. To expand the activities of the HPC training, four NSM Nodal Centres for training in HPC and AI have been established at IIT-Kharagpur, IIT-Madras, IIT-Goa, and IIT-Palakkad. These centres have conducted online training programs in HPC and AI.

Powered by the NSM, India’s network of research institutions, in collaboration with the industry, is scaling up the technology and manufacturing capability to make more parts in India. India has also developed an indigenous server (Rudra), which can meet the HPC requirements of all governments and public sector undertakings (PSUs). The three phases will provide access to HPC facilities to around 75 institutions and more than thousands of active researchers and academicians working through the NKN.

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