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   Move over PARAM-PADMA, C-DAC’s new one is bigger, better  
 

Dated March 26, 2006
The Indian Express

Supercomputer being developed at Pune, Bangalore will be ready in 6 months.

The supercomputing people are at it again. Having pioneered the supercomputing movement in the 90's and giving India her first indigenous supercomputer in 1991 (PARAM 8000), the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) is now busy developing the next generation supercomputer with a peak computing power of five teraflops capability to process five trillion floating points operations per second.

Just so we know its scale operation, India's fastest indigenous supercomputer PARAM PADMA housed at C-DAC's Tera Scale Supercomputing Facility (CTSF) in Bangalore, has a peak computing power of one teraflop.

The new supercomputer is being developed mainly at C-DAC's Pune and Bangalore centres by our supercomputing group, says S.C. Purohit, C-DAC Director. It should be ready within the next six months.

Hardware, applications, architecture, testing as well as benchmarking parameters of the new system is being developed in Pune while the system software is being developed at our Bangalore centre, Purohit said. C-DAC's other centres are also contributing their expertise.

The new supercomputer hopes to silence C-DAC's critics, who have long held that the exorbitant cost of PADMA was why C-DAC couldn't find buyers for it.The new system will be of the same cost as PADMA and yet have much higher computing power, Purohit explained.

The cost factor has already been addressed as PADMA was made using technology available four years ago. In the current scenario, the cost benefits vis-a-vis the cutting edge technology being used will be much more, he added.

India was pushed into supercomputing in the late 80s when the United States refused to supply the Cray supercomputer to the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, for studies in weather forecasting.

C-DAC then took the lead in developing India's first supercomputer, PARAM 8000, by 1991. Within the decade, C-DAC went on to develop indigenous supercomputers namely, PARAM 8000-600, PARAM 9000, PARAM open frame, PARAM 10000 and finally PARAM-PADMA in 2003.

Other's also joined in with supercomputers like NAL's Flosolver (National Aerospace Laboratory), Anupam (Bhabha Atomic Research Centre), PACE (Advanced Numerical Research Group) and CHIPPS (from the Centre for Development of Telematics CDOT, Bangalore).

Of late, several national scientific institutes are buying their supercomputing platforms from vendors, instead of using C-DAC's PADMA. There are four supercomputers in India, including one at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, New Delhi, which finds a place among the top 500 supercomputers of the world, but none of them have been made indigenously.

Technologically, C-DAC's new system will also be superior to PADMA as faster switches and new processors are being used. This in turn will ensure faster inter-processor communication and better efficiency.

According to analysts, the architecture of PADMA lead to an average efficiency of 44 per cent. With the new supercomputer, C-DAC will seek to put its name in the top 500 list of computers as PADMA was displaced from it by other powerful machines. PADMA's high-point was in 2003, when it was ranked 171 in a list of the world's most powerful supercomputers by Top 500, a respected rating agency for the high-end computing fraternity.

C-DAC';S NEW BABY

With five teraflop of computing power, C-DAC's new supercomputer will address the need for a cheap yet powerful high-end computing platform for Indian scientists. The new machine will find use in areas like:

By: Rituparna Bhuyan