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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

More supercomputers, AI training mark beginning of phase II of National Supercomputing Mission

The 7-year mission aims at establishing supercomputer facilities across 70 national research and academic institutions and connecting them onto a National Knowledge Network.

Written by Anjali Marar | Pune | Updated: October 13, 2020 9:47:54 am
Supercomputing Mission, Supercomputing Mission India, India Supercomputing Mission, CDAC Supercomputing Mission, Indian express newsWhile procurement of a few systems was planned in the initial phase of the mission, going forward, all components and systems will be indigenously built.

The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) on Monday launched the second phase of the ambitious National Supercomputing Mission (NSM).

Launched in 2015 and jointly funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), the seven-year mission aims at establishing supercomputer facilities across 70 national research and academic institutions and connecting them onto a National Knowledge Network (NKN).

Thirteen national institutions including IITs — Madras, Kharagpur, Kanpur, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Roorkee, Mandi, Gandhinagar, Goa and Palakkad — along with Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc), Bengaluru; National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI), Mohali and NIT, Thiruchirapalli inked MoUs with the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), which along with IISc, is leading the mission. Many of these institutions will soon be supported with supercomputer facilities under this mission (See box).

Sanjay Dhotre, MoS in the Ministry of Education, Communications, Electronics and IT, Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST, officials of C-DAC and directors and heads of the participating institutions attended the online programme on Monday.

At the end of the first phase of this Rs 4,500-crore mission, supercomputers have been deployed at IIT-BHU – Varanasi, Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research – Pune, IIT-Kharagpur and Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research – Bengaluru. The maiden phase also saw efforts to create an ecosystem for assembly of system components within the country.

Addressing the meeting, Hemant Darbari, director general of C-DAC, said, “We are now entering the second phase of the mission, wherein more institutions will be supported by supercomputing facilities. Nodal training centres would be established in this phase.”

While procurement of a few systems was planned in the initial phase of the mission, going forward, all components and systems will be indigenously built.

Soon, a fully indigenised system comprising the server board, network card and the system design done by C-DAC will be ready for operations. The C-DAC headquarters in Pune has received approval for setting up a 20 PetaFlop system and another 650 TeraFlop system at its Bengaluru centre, both of which will be connected onto the NKN.

“All system deployments that were part of phase one have been completed and deployments planned in the second phase will be taken up soon. C-DAC has already initiated activities of design and manufacture planned in the third phase,” said Darbari, speaking about the progress of the NSM.

IITs in Kharagpur, Madras, Goa and Palakkad will soon house the National Centre for Human Resource Development. At these centres, skilling and training facilities will be provided to the user communities aimed at familiarising themselves with next-generation technology, high-performance computing and artificial intelligence.

Apart from academia and research institutions, Sharma suggested that open access of supercomputing facilities be extended even to industries and start-ups. “We must know the uses of the computing facilities and must link it with all stakeholders, including industries and start-ups,” said Sharma.

MoS Dhotre said, “Sectors like health, climate modelling, oil explorations and more will enjoy benefits of supercomputers, which will in turn contribute towards the socio-economic upliftment of the nation.”

Supercomputers will be a common facility available for all researchers in the country, added the C-DAC director general.

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