November 30, 2020

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India’s AI supercomputer among the most powerful non-distributed computer systems in the world

Param Siddhi, the high-performance computing-artificial intelligence (HPC-AI) supercomputer has ranked 63rd in the top 500 most powerful non-distributed computer systems in the world, according to a report released on 16 November.

The supercomputer was established under the National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) at the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).

The AI system will strengthen the application development of packages in areas such as advanced materials, computational chemistry, and astrophysics. Several packages are being developed under the mission on the platform for drug design and preventive health care systems and flood forecasting for flood-prone metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Patna, and Guwahati. This will accelerate research and development in the war against COVID-19 through faster simulations, medical imaging, genome sequencing, and forecasting. A press release claimed it was a boon for Indian masses and start-ups and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), in particular.

It will aid application developers and the testing of weather forecasting packages by the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM). Geo-exploration packages will aid oil and gas recovery. There are packages for aero-design studies, computational physics, mathematical applications, and even online education courses.

The supercomputer with a Rpeak of 5.267 Petaflops and 4.6 Petaflops Rmax (sustained) was conceived by C-DAC and developed jointly with support from the Department of Science and Technology (DST), under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

“It is a historical first. India, today, has one of the largest supercomputer infrastructures in the world. This is evidenced by the ranking that Param Siddhi-AI has received today,” Secretary, DST Professor Ashutosh Sharma noted. “I truly believe that Param Siddhi-AI will go a long way in empowering our national academic and research and development institutions as well as industries and start-ups spread over the country networked on the national supercomputer grid over the National Knowledge Network (NKN).”

He pointed out that with the infusion of Param Siddhi-AI, the scientific and technology community in the country will further be enabled and empowered to solve the multidisciplinary grand challenges of healthcare, agriculture, education, energy, cybersecurity, space, AI applications, weather and climate modelling, and urban planning.

The Param Siddhi supercomputer is built on the NVIDIA DGX SuperPOD reference architecture networking, along with C-DAC’s indigenously developed HPC-AI engine, software frameworks, and cloud platform. It will aid deep learning, visual computing, virtual reality, accelerated computing, as well as graphics virtualisation.

India is home to the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem, elite science, technology institutions like the IITs, robust and ubiquitous digital infrastructure, and millions of newly-minted STEM graduates every year. Therefore, the country is expected to become a global leader in the development of AI. Industry analysts predict that AI could add up to US$ 957 billion to India’s economy by 2035.

The government hopes to stand out in the international community not just as a leader in AI, but also as a model to show the world how to responsibly direct AI for social empowerment. The nation has robust plans to leverage AI for inclusive development, representing the country’s ‘AI for All’ strategy.