India this week committed Rs 10,000 crore to indigenously develop the world’s fastest supercomputer by 2017.
The Planning Commission agreed in principle to provide the funds to the Indian Space Research Organsiation (ISRO) and Indian Institute of Science (IIS), Bangalore to develop a supercomputer with a performance of 132.8 exaflops (132 quintillion floating operations per second). A quintillion has 18 zeros (a million has six).
In computing, flops is an acronym to measure computing performance. An average personal computer can go up to 7.5 gigaflops.
The world’s fastest supercomputer right now is a Chinese one, which can do 2.7 pentaflops, or two quadrillion flops. A quadrillion has 15 zeros.
India in 2007 had the world’s fourth fastest indigenously-developed supercomputer with a performance of 172.5 teraflops (172 trillion flops), which has been enhanced this month to 220 teraflops. That’s still a level lower than China’s supercomputer.
The Indian supercomputer will not be used only for enhancing the country’s space abilities, it will also be used to predict monsoon and precise weather inputs to boost agriculture N Balakrishnan, associate professor at IIS-Bangalore, said the target being set is “ambitious” while referring to achieving the exaflop – or next level of computing performance -- by 2017. “We have planned everything minutely.”
“We have agreed to provide R10,000 crore for having ‘exa’ level of supercomputing facility,” minister of state for planning Ashwini Kumar told HT.
Balakrishnan, in a presentation to the plan panel, said ISRO has already booked key equipment to develop the supercomputer by 2017. “Most of the other gadgets will be indigenously developed,” he said. “Supercomputing is key to competing in the international space market,” Balakrishnan said.