Task split into 3 phases starting with import of 6 machines, followed by indigenous manufacture of switches and networks. Full Indian manufacture relegated to last phase.
Bangalore, July 24 2017: India's National Supercomputing Mission -- the ambitious Rs 4500 crore project to make India a leading supercomputer nation -- seems to have been subtly tweaked, to embrace near term goals, where 'buy for India' replaces 'Make in India'.
|The mission was first launched by the Manmohan Singh government in 2012 with Rs 50 billion (Rs 5000 crore) in the kitty "to build national capacity and capability in supercomputing".
The plan was very similar to -- and indeed may have been derived from -- a scheme for India to achieve exascale capability submitted to the Prime Minister's Science Advisory Council by Dr Vijay Bhatkar former Director General of the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) and currently VBice Chancellor, Nalanda University, who is known to be a strong proponent of India building its own supercomputer.
Not much progress was made for the next few years and the new government headed by Narendra Modi, dusted and relaunched the supercomputing mission in 2015, resetting the clock with a new a 7 year time line and a budget that had by then shrunk to Rs 45 billion ( Rs 4500 crores). The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore were designated as the twin operational hubs of the project.
Now, two years after that, there is some clarity about how the Mission intends to move forward -- but it also reveals a major re cast of priorities. Developing and building an indigenous system is now no longer a priority: it has been relegated to the third and last phase of the 7-year programme ( 5 years remaining).
Prior to that India will shop in the global market and buy 6 supercomputers. It will begin by importing three ready to use systems and another three will be manufactured abroad but assembled in India -- under the supervision of C-DAC.
PTI quotes the secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology to say that these six machines are intended for the IITs at BHU Varanasi, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Hyderabad, the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Pune and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Only two of these machines will be of 2 petaflop capacity.
IISC is already home to a Cray XC40 system rated at 901.5 teraflop -- at the Supercomputing Education and Research Centre( SERC). It is the fastest of four India-based supercomputers ranked among the world's 500 fastest machines -- all of them imported.
Indigenous manufacture will be undertaken in the second phase but that too will be restricted to some select sub assemblies like switches, nodes and networks.
The game plan revealed by the Ministry of Science and Technology, appears to indicate a rethinking of the original goal of the National Supercomputing Mission to create national capacity in supercomputing. And indeed this is a reversal of a national endeavour that goes back almost 3 decades when C-DAC launched the Param supercomputer series of indigenous machines with Param 8000, whose latest avatar is the 388 teraflop Param Yuva II.
(Jargon: A teraflop is one trillion computer operations per second