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The Top 500 list and India's HPC stable

Submitted by Karthik on 28 June, 2012 - 00:56

India has consistently had an odd entry or two in the Top 500 supercomputers lists over the last decade or so. In the recently released list for June 2012, this number has increased to five entries and comprises the following:

Rank Name Location Type
58 CSIR Centre for Mathematical Modelling and Computer Simulation Bangalore Research
86 SAGA-220, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, ISRO Thiruvananthapuram Research
129 EKA, Computational Research Laboratories, TATA Pune Industry
224 IIT Madras Chennai Research
380 An IT Provider India Industry

An IBM server at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology which was in 403rd position in the previous list appears to have dropped out of the Top 500.

The C-MMACS system will primarily be used for computation in fields such as meteorology while SAGA-220, the new ISRO supercomputer (interestingly credited as a joint effort between HP & Wipro), will be used to improve the designs of launch vehicles. The latter has also garnered attention for incorporating NVIDIA GPUs to extract improved performance.

"GPUs enabled us to reduce the time to create, simulate and verify a new launch vehicle design from weeks to days, while improving the overall quality and durability of the design dramatically," said sources at ISRO. "This level of supercomputing power has made a huge difference in our space program, by enabling us to continually refine and improve our prediction capabilities."

ISRO leverages the SAGA system and the PARAS-3D application to run compute-intensive, detailed computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations that optimize the launch vehicle design for improved performance under a range of flow conditions. With GPUs, ISRO is able to run more complex simulations 7-8 times faster than with a CPU-based system, reducing the time to create, test and finalize new designs by the same factor. In addition, the higher compute density in a GPU-based system enables better application scalability while requiring a much lower investment in communication infrastructure.

However, all is not peachy. Livemint notes that India's HPC resources have actually decreased - if you go by the Top 500 list - as we had nine entries (including EKA in the Top 10) in 2007. The article goes on to juxtapose these numbers with those of China which had ten entries in 2007 and now boasts of sixty eight!