More than a decade and a half after India produced its first indigenously designed supercomputer in 1991, the country has booked itself a place on the international supercomputing bandwagon.Last fortnight, Computational Research Laboratories (CRL), a subsidiary of Tata Sons, announced that it had developed a supercomputer, called Eka, which has been ranked as the fourth fastest computer in the world and the fastest in Asia by Top500, a project that ranks the world’s 500 most powerful computers. This is the first time that an Indian supercomputer has made the final cut. IBM’s Blue Gene tops the list—for the fourth time in a row.
Developed at a cost of $30 million, Eka uses nearly 1,800 computing nodes and has a peak performance of 170 teraflops (tflops or trillion floating point operations per second) and a sustained performance of 120 teraflops. “The supercomputer was assembled by our team in a record period of six weeks…we plan to make the facility available to others on a franchise basis,” says S. Ramadorai, Chairman, CRL. Ramadorai also says that CRL is in talks with several companies for the supercomputers but refuses to set a figure to the number of customers CRL expects to sign up.
Initially, CRL is developing applications in areas like neural simulation, molecular simulation, computational fluid dynamics, crash simulation, and digital media animation and rendering. In the long run, CRL plans to enlarge application areas to financial modeling, seismic modeling, geophysical signal processing, weather prediction, medical imaging, nanotechnology, personalised drug discovery and real-time rendering. It’s not called a supercomputer for nothing.