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'At $5 million, Param supercomputer has huge export potential'

December 17, 2002 13:36 IST

Indian top scientists are upbeat about the export potential of the country's latest advanced supercomputer Param Padma, with a peak computing power of one tera flop (floating operations per second), which costs $5million -- half the international price.

With the Pune-based Center for Development of Advanced Computing setting up its first next generation scalable computing cluster in Bangalore, the department of science and technology will be showcasing its features and advantages to international customers at the ensuing 90th Indian Science Congress, being held in the city from January 3-7, 2003.

In view of the 50 per cent cost advantage India enjoys over its international rivals in setting up such clusters, C-DAC will be targeting some of the countries, which have already bought its earlier Param 10000 version with a computing power of 100 giga flops.

"We have been able to set up India's most powerful supercomputer at $5 million, which is half the price of similar computers being sold in the international market," claimed C-DAC executive director R K Arora in Bangalore.

He said Param-Padma would be launched in the next one month.

C-DAC has already sold about 7 Param 10000 supercomputers with 100 giga flop memory to eight countries so far, including Russia (four), and Canada, Singapore, and Germany (one each).

"In India, about 45 leading research and development centers and academic institutions have also installed a series of Param's high performance scalable computers for conducting R&D activities in diverse fields such as bio-informatics, nano-technologies, atmospheric and oceanic modeling for weather forecasting, and fluid dynamics for space applications. Keeping in view the growing needs of the scientific and industrial communities the world over, C-DAC will be targeting both the domestic and international customers for marketing the Padma supercomputer, which can be scaled up to 16 tera flops," Arora stated.

According to Union science and technology department secretary V S Ramamurthy, the market for supercomputers will triple by 2006 to $1.6 billion by 2006 from $0.5 billion currently in India alone.

"Such cluster of supercomputers in 8 centers across the country, including Pune and all the 6 IITs will be networked to form the India Information grid (I-grid) in the run-up to set up a Asian grid on the lines of the European grid under construction," Ramamurthy hinted.

Though the Padma cluster is ready for operations, it will be formally launched at the C-DAC Knowledge Park on the outskirts of Bangalore.

C-DAC is pulling out all stops to get Prime Minister A B Vajpayee to commission Padma as he is scheduled to be in Bangalore to inaugurate the Indian Science Congress on January 3.

Alternatively, Union Minister Communications and Information Technology Pramod Mahajan has been invited to click its operations.

Currently, Japan boasts of using the world's most powerful cluster of supercomputers with 36 tera flops to study the simulation of earth and various climatic changes.

The US which has built a high performance computing facility with 13 tera flops follows it.

According to Union Communications and IT Ministry secretary Rajeeva Ratna Shah, the thrust of India's supercomputing machines will be extensively used in the emerging frontiers of science and technology such as bio-computation, nano-computation, weather forecasting, seismic data processing, and structural mechanics.

C-DAC officials told that Param Padma was powered by the center's flexible and scalable high performance computing software environment.

"Padma's storage system has been designed to provide a primary storage of 5 terabytes, scalable to 22 tera bytes. The hardware environment is powered by the compute nodes, based on the power4 RISC processors in symmetric multi-processor configurations," an official disclosed.

The nodes are also connected through the primary high performance system area network, ParamNet-II, designed and developed by C-DAC and a Gigabit Ethernet as a backup network.

Fakir Chand in Bangalore