News Excerpt
Recently Atos, the global information technology service provider has announced two supercomputers from India — PARAM Siddhi-AI and Mihir — have made it to the TOP500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

History of Supercomputing in India
•    Supercomputing in India has a history going back to the 1980s. The Government of India created an indigenous development programme as they had difficulty purchasing foreign supercomputers. As of June 2020, when ranking by number of supercomputer systems in the TOP500 list, India is ranked 23rd in the world.
•    In 1986 the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) started the Flosolver project to develop a computer for computational fluid dynamics and aerospace engineering.
•    In 1987 the Indian Government had requested to purchase a Cray X-MP supercomputer; this request was denied by the United States government as the machine could have a dual use in weapons development. After this problem, in the same year, the Government of India decided to promote an indigenous supercomputer development programme. Multiple projects were commissioned from different groups including the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT), the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), and the Advanced Numerical Research and Analysis Group (ANURAG). C-DOT created "CHIPPS": the C-DOT High-Performance Parallel Processing System. BARC created the Anupam series of supercomputers. ANURAG created the PACE series of supercomputers.
•    The Indian Government has proposed to commit 2.5 billion USD to supercomputing research during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2012–2017). The project will be handled by Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. Additionally, it was later revealed that India plans to develop a supercomputer with processing power in the exaflops range. It will be developed by C-DAC within the subsequent five years of approval.

National Supercomputing Mission
o    In 2015 the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology announced a "National Supercomputing Mission" (NSM) to install 73 indigenous supercomputers throughout the country by 2022. This is a seven-year program worth $730 million (Rs. 4,500 crore). Whilst previously computer was assembled in India, the NSM aims to produce the components within the country. The NSM is being implemented by C-DAC and the Indian Institute of Science.
o    The aim is to create a cluster of geographically-distributed high-performance computing centers linked over a high-speed network, connecting various academic and research institutions across India. This has been dubbed the "National Knowledge Network" (NKN). The mission involves both capacity and capability machines and includes standing up three petascale supercomputers.

Recent Developments
    Two supercomputers from India — PARAM Siddhi-AI and Mihir, have been ranked 63rd and 146th, respectively, and remain the only two supercomputers from India in the latest list of TOP500 released recently.
    PARAM Siddhi-AI has a Rpeak capacity of 5.267 Petaflops and Rmax capacity of 4.6 Petaflops. It was led and built on NVIDIA DGX SuperPOD architecture. The system, jointly built by the Department of Science and Technology and Ministry of Electronics and IT under the National Supercomputing Mission, was conceptualised by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing.

Major international developments
    Japanese supercomputer Fugaku (442 petaflops) and IBM’s Summit (148.8 petaflops) are the two most powerful supercomputers in the world, according to the Top500 list.
    Chinese Sunway TaihuLight is number four on the list (93 petaflops), developed by the National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC) in China.
    This Artificial Intelligence-based system’s wide applications cover advanced materials, education, space, agriculture, defence and national security, computational chemistry and astrophysics, drug design and preventive healthcare systems, as well as flood forecasting in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Patna and Guwahati.
    ‘Mihir’ is a 2.8 Petaflop supercomputer which has been operational at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast (NCMRWF), Noida. It is one of the powerful systems owned by the Ministry of Earth Sciences and has helped improve India’s forecasting skills.

Significance of supercomputers in India
    Many of the institutions across India like 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, open access of supercomputing facilities will be extended even to industries and start-ups.
    Sectors like health, climate modelling, oil explorations, etc. will enjoy benefits of supercomputers, which will in turn contribute towards the socio-economic upliftment of the nation.
    Employment generation for skilled work force: Under NSM, the long-term plan is to build a strong base of 20,000 skilled persons over the next five years who will be equipped to handle the complexities of supercomputers.

Given the current pace at which things are moving forward, experts suggest that India may soon have motherboards and sub-systems manufactured in the country, making supercomputers indigenously designed and manufactured. The National Super Computing Mission (NSM) is rapidly boosting high power computing in the country through its various phases to meet the increasing computational demands of academia, researchers, MSMEs and startups in areas like oil exploration, flood prediction, genomics and drug discovery.