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India plans fastest supercomputer by 2017

The computer will be at least 61 times faster than Sequoia, the fastest supercomputer in the world

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The government has drawn a blueprint for developing the next generation of supercomputers that could be 61 times faster than existing machines.

Telecom and IT Minister Kapil Sibal is understood to have written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sharing the roadmap to develop "petaflop and exaflop range of supercomputers" at an estimated cost of Rs 4,700 crore over 5 years.

"In his (Sibal) letter, he has said that C-DAC has developed a proposal with a roadmap to develop a petaflop and exaflop range of supercomputers in the country with an outlay of Rs 4,700 crore," a government official said.

A petaflop is a measure of a s processing speed and can be expressed as a thousand trillion floating point operations per second. Exaflop is one quintillion computer operations per second. Simply put, one exaflop is thousand times faster than one petaflop.

The fastest in the world, Sequoia, has registered a top computing speed of 16.32 petaflops which is equivalent of computing of power from over 7.8 lakhs high-end laptops put together.

If the Indian government approves building exaflop supercomputers, these will be at least 61 times faster than Sequoia, officials said.

India's top supercomputer at present ranks 58th globally in terms of computing speed.

Sibal has cited the past record of Center for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) which was set up in 1987 by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi after technologically advanced nations denied supply of supercomputer to India in mid-1980s.

"The Minister has written that C-DAC developed first supercomputers in the country, the PARAM series. Presently Param Yuva with 54 teraflop computing power is serving many researchers through Garuda Computing Grid," the official said.

Sibal has proposed that Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEITY) should be given tasks to coordinate overall supercomputing activities in the country as it has been done in the past.

The proposal made in the letter says that DEITY should be given tasks to set up a National Apex Committee to oversee the implementation of the proposed Supercomputing Mission and C- DAC should establish peta and exascale supercomputing facilities and development activities.

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