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India hosts world's fourth fastest supercomputer
Posted By:Hajas On 11/13/2007

India hosts world's fourth fastest supercomputer
13 Nov 2007, 2143 hrs IST,Chidanand Rajghatta,TNN

 

WASHINGTON: India has surprisingly broken into the Top Ten in a much-fancied twice-yearly list of the fastest supercomputers in the world, marking a giant leap in its push towards becoming a global IT power.

A cluster platform at Pune's Computational Research Laboratories (CRL), a Tata subsidiary, has been ranked fourth in the widely anticipated Top 500 list released at an international conference on high performance computing in Reno, Nevada.

It is the first time that India has figured in the Top 100 let alone Top Ten of the supercomputing list. The list, which is usually dominated by the United States, is also notable this time because it has five new entrants in the Top Ten, with supercomputers in Germany and Sweden up there with the one in India.

The fourth-ranking Tata supercomputer, named EKA after the Sanskrit term for one, is a Hewlett-Packard Cluster Platform 3000 BL460c system. CRL has integrated this system with its own innovative routing technology and to achieve a 117.9 Teraflop or trillions of calculations per second.

The No. 1 position was again claimed by the BlueGene/L System, a joint development of IBM and the US Department of Energy's (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and installed at DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

Although BlueGene/L has occupied the No. 1 position since November 2004, the current system is much faster at 478.2 TFop/s compared to 280.6 TFlop/s six months ago before its upgrade.

At No 2 is a BlueGene/P system installed in Germany at the Forschungszentrum Juelich (FZJ) and it achieved performance of 167.3 TFlop/s. The No. 3 system at the New Mexico Computing Applications Center (NMCAC) in Rio Rancho, N.M posted a speed of 126.9 TFlop/s.

Ashwin Nanda, who heads the CRL, told the conference that its supercomputer had been built with HP servers using Intel chips with a total of 14,240 processor cores. The system went operational last month and achieved a performance of 117.9 teraflops.

The system is slated for use in government scientific research and product development for Tata, as well as to provide services to US customers, Nanda said.

In a statement in India, the Tata Group said "EKA marks a milestone in the Tata group's effort to build an indigenous high performance computing solution."

CRL, it disclosed, built the supercomputer facility using dense data centre layout and novel network routing and parallel processing library technologies developed by its scientists.

While the US is clearly the leading consumer of high power computing systems with 284 of the 500 systems, Europe follows with 149 systems and Asia has 58 systems. In Asia, Japan leads with 20 systems, Taiwan has 11, China 10 and India 9.

The second ranked supercomputer in India, rated 58th in the Top500 list is at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. Others are ranked 152, 158, 179, 336, 339,340 and 371.

Horst Simon, associate laboratory director, computing sciences, at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, and one of the Top500 list authors, told Computerworld that it was exciting to see India's entrance into the Top 10 and because the country has "huge potential" as a supercomputing nation.

"India is very well known for having great software engineers and great mathematicians, and having a (HPC) center there is a catalyst for doing more in the high performance computing field," Simon told the industry publication, adding that it brings "a whole new set of players into the supercomputing world."

India has made steady progress in the field of supercomputing from the time it first bought two from the US pioneer Cray Research in 1988, at a time of a tough technology control regime. US strictures on the scope of its use and demand for intrusive monitoring and compliance led India to devise its own supercomputers using clusters of multiprocessors.

Supercomputers are typically used for highly calculation problem solving in quantum mechanical physics, molecular modeling, weather forecasting and climate research, and physical simulation including that of nuclear tests.

The term supercomputer is quite relative. It was first used in 1929 to refer to large custom-built tabulators IBM made for Columbia University. The supercomputers of the 1970s are today's desktops.

chidanand.rajghatta@timesgroup.com
 



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