What are supercomputers? Give an account of their applications and India’s progress in this sector.

What are supercomputers? Give an account of their applications and India’s progress in this sector.

Approach:

  • Introduce supercomputer, with some examples
  • Write about its use in various sectors
  • Give an account of development of supercomputers in India
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :

A computer or array of computers that act as one collective machine capable of processing enormous amounts of data are called super computer. Supercomputers are used for very complex jobs such as nuclear research or forecasting weather patterns. The performance measured in FLOPS (floating point operations per second). The top Supercomputers of the world are Sunway taihu-Light running at 93 Petaflops (thousand trillion FLOPS), Tianhe-2 running at 33 Petaflops and Piz-DAINT running at 19 Petaflops.

Applications of supercomputers:

  • Weather and climate modeling– better forecast and accuracy e.g. Monsoon.
  • Academic research– solving complex and large mathematical problems. They have wide application in Quantum physics, fluid mechanics etc.
  • Medical– discovery of new drugs by analyzing protein interactions, mutation in genes etc.
  • Oil and Gas exploration– analyzing large and complex data of geophysics and giving.
  • Big Data Analysis– analyzing large number of different types of data and giving possible outcomes.
  • Aerospace– development of aircraft and space vehicles.
  • Nuclear research– simulate actual nuclear fusion or fission.

Supercomputer development in India:

  • The first indigenous supercomputer was developed in 1991 by Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) which was called as PARAM 8000.
  • In the 12th five-year plan, the government of India (GOI) had committed that $2.5bn for the research in the supercomputing field.
  • In 2015, GOI approved 7-year supercomputing program known as National Supercomputing Mission which aims to create a cluster of 73 supercomputers
  • As of July 2017, India has 4 supercomputers with speeds in top 500 but not any in top 10.

Supercomputers have huge potential applications in social development and it can help to achieve food security, energy security, environmental protection etc. To move to the next level, India needs to look beyond mere applications of HPC and focus on the fundamental sciences of it. India must also leverage technological expertise of the global network of Indian-origin scientists as well as encourage participation from the private sector.

Subjects : Science and Technology

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