If everything goes as planned, then India will be home to the world’s fastest supercomputer by 2017. In fact, the Indian government is aiming to build a supercomputer that would be 61 times faster than the one that exists currently.
The Telecom and IT Minister, Kapil Sibal in his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, shared with him the charted roadmap to build petaflop and exaflop range of supercomputers. It has been further reported that the entire project will cost the Indian government an estimated Rs 4,700 crore.
What developing the world’s fastest supercomputer means for the country, can be judged from the fact that the country’s top supercomputer at present ranks 58th globally in terms of computing speed.
Sequoia is currently the world's fastest supercomputer
If plans materialise, then the supercomputer by India would be faster than Sequoia by IBM, which is currently the fastest supercomputer in the world. Sequoia has been known to have a top computing speed of 16.32 petaflops. Simply put, it is equivalent of computing of power from over 7.8 lakhs high-end laptops put together.
In June this year, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced that Sequoia, at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) had been ranked the world's most powerful computing system. Clocking in at 16.32 sustained petaflops (quadrillion floating point operations per second), Sequoia was ranked number one on the industry standard Top 500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers.
A petaflop, essentially is a measure of the processing speed of a computer, which can be expressed as a thousand trillion floating point operations per second. Exaflop is one quintillion computer operations per second. Simply put, one exaflop is thousand times faster than one petaflop.
Reports quoted a government official as saying, “In his (Sibal's) letter, he has said that C-DAC has developed a proposal with a roadmap to develop a petaflop and exaflop range of supercomputers in the country with an outlay of Rs 4,700 crore."
Sibal further shed light on the previous record of the Center for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC). C-DAC was set up in 1987 by Rajiv Gandhi after technologically advanced nations refused to supply supercomputer to India in mid-1980s. The official was further quoted as saying, “The Minister has written that C-DAC developed first supercomputers in the country, the Param series. Presently Param Yuva with 54 teraflop computing power is serving many researchers through Garuda Computing Grid.”
Sibal, in his letter to Singh has proposed that the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEITY) be given tasks to coordinate all supercomputing activities in the country, since it has been done in the past.
He went on to add that DEITY should be given tasks to install a National Apex Committee that would look over the task of the implementation of the proposed Supercomputing Mission. Sibal mentioned that C- DAC should establish peta and exascale supercomputing facilities and development activities.