Modi Govt Puts Road Map in Place for Supercomputing Mission

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The Economic Times (Bangalore)
January 15, 2016


Project aligned with 'Make in India'; targets to manufacture over half the supercomputers here

Almost a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the National Supercomputing Mission (NSM), an initiative aimed at improving India's capability and capacity in supercomputers, it is getting ready to move from the planning to the execution stage.

A technical advisory committee is in the process of finalising a detailed roadmap to take the mission to the next level, said Rajat Moona, director-general of the Centre for Developing Advance Computing (C-Dac).

The centre is spearheading the project along with the Indian Institute of Science-Bangalore.“Under the NSM, we are focusing on three things: creating better infrastructure, becoming more application-oriented and investing in human capital,“ said Moona. One of the key areas of focus is improving the supercomputing infrastructure, and this is where it would be aligned with another high-decibel government initiative, Make in India.

“At present, most of the components for the supercomputers are procured from outside. Over time, we are aiming to make over 50% of the super computers in India,“ said Moona.

Only the mechanical infrastructure is now made in India. Moona said while the chips would continue to be imported, they were working towards developing and manufacturing the electrical hardware and cooling systems domestically. The NSM is being jointly implemented by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) at an estimated cost of '. 4,500 crore over seven years. Of this, so far the DST has released . 85' crore and DeitY, . 25 crore. Moona' is hopeful that with the national budget coming up, more funds will be allocated towards this mission, which would accelerate locally growth.

In order to speed things up, manufacturing would happen in multiple stages. In the first phase, manufacturing will start based on existing designs while the second phase will involve doing the product design locally. The team is currently in the process of making proposals for the technology advisory committee to review.What is interesting is that this time the focus isn't restricted to building the supercomputers, but also creating applications that would benefit from it.

The organisation is in talks with various government and private groups to collaborate on applications across 20 areas ranging from astrophysics and astronomy, weather modelling, drug discovery to government applications like bioinformatics.

The NSM was announced to empower academic and R&D institutions across the country by connecting them through a supercomputing grid of over 70 high-performance computing facilities. These supercomputers will also be networked on the national supercomputing grid over the National Knowledge Network.