Image for representationl only
Image for representationl only

has begun for cancer research, genome sequencing and drug discovery to be run on high performance computers that it has contracted to French IT services firm Atos to build as part of the National Supercomputing Mission.

The applications include genome sequencing, simulations for cancer research and protein folding in collaboration with Tata Memorial Hospital and for breast cancer research with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Hemant Darbari, director general, Center for Development of Computing (C-DAC) told ET.

French IT services company Atos won the contract to build the first set of high performance computers that would be ready in the first quarter of 2019.

The Rs 500 crore NSM envisions a network of over 70 supercomputers at academic and research institutions across the country, which will aid India in areas ranging from weather forecasting to drug discovery and astrophysics, among others.

India currently has 32 supercomputers across institutions, with a combined capacity of 12.77 peta flops with two machines – Pratyush at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune ranks and Mihir at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting in Noida in the top 100 supercomputers in the world.

“We have been working on various applications, which are a key part of the mission, as well as a few research projects including a high-speed network, Trinetra, that would connect the supercomputers once they are up,” Darbari said.

It is currently developing appplications internally and testing these on the Param Shavak computers such that they would be ready to be used as soon as the supercomputers are ready. Param Shavak are the smaller ‘supercomputers in a box’ that C-DAC provides to academic institutes across India.

C-DAC is testing the network on two parrallel bands of 240 and 600 gigabits/second, six to 15 times higher speeds of the existing network of the Param supercomputer. The agency is also working on 64 core high performance computing (HPC) processers which would be used in the subsequent supercomputers as part of the ‘Make in India’ component.

To meet the demand for trained manpower to operate and work on these machines, C-DAC has been conducting programmes for staff at various institutions on how to use these supercomputers. So far, 2000 researchers and faculty have been trained out of the 20,000 people who need to be trained. This exercise is being jointly carried out by C-DAC and the Indian Institute of Science (IISC) in Bengaluru.

“We are using the Param Shavak computers for the practical part of the training so that they get proper hands-on training in how to use the supercomputers,” said Darbari. The institute will also be providing scholarships to PhD students working in high performance computing related areas to further aid research in this space.

The NSM is being jointly implemented by the Department of Science and Technology and Department of Electronics and Information. While C-DAC is spearheading the ‘build’ part of the mission, the ‘buy’ side is managed by IISC. In the first phase, IIT-Kharagpur will have a 1.3 petaflop machine and IISER Pune and IIT-BHU will have a 650 teraflop computer each, which should happen in the first quarter of 2019.

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