India Plans World’s Fastest Supercomputer by 2017

It takes a whole lot of silicon to build a supercomputer.

India wants the world’s fastest supercomputer by 2017.

In order to reach that goal, the Indian government is apparently tracing out a roadmap “to develop a petaflop and exaflop range of supercomputers in the country,” according to an unnamed government official speaking to the newspaper Indian Express Sept. 16.

While India’s top supercomputer ranks fifty-eighth among supercomputers, according to both the newspaper and the semiannual Top500 list, the government’s plans would elevate the country to the top position. However, other countries and organizations will presumably evolve either own supercomputer technology over the past five years, making that Number One spot a moving target.

That roadmap suggests that India’s Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEITY) set up a committee for overseeing the work, while the Center for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) actually implement the necessary development infrastructure.

Europe recently inaugurated its most powerful supercomputer, the SuperMUC, which ranks fourth on the Top500 supercomputing listing. That machine contains 147,456 cores using Intel Xeon 2.7-GHz, 8-core E5-2680 chips. Instead of air, that system cools itself by pumping water directly over the microprocessors, then away from the CPU cores.

The Department of Energy’s “Sequoia” supercomputer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif. remains the world’s most powerful. It relies on 16-core, 1.6-GHz POWER BQC chips, the same that power the DOE’s Mira Supercomputer at the Argonne National Laboratory, which ranks third. The second supercomputer on the Top500 list is Fujitsu’s “K Computer,” installed at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) in Kobe, Japan.

The DOE uses Sequoia to simulate nuclear weapons tests, specifically how materials will react at extreme pressures and temperatures. That allows U.S. experts to effectively anticipate potential issues with the nation’s weapons stockpile as it continues it age, without having to actually engage in any treaty-breaking nuclear tests.

Among supercomputer builders, IBM maintains a lead in overall systems (213 on the most recent Top500 list, or 42.6 percent), followed by Hewlett-Packard with 138 systems (27.6 percent), Cray with 5.4 percent, Appro with 3.6 percent and SGI and Bull tied with 3.2 percent each.


Image: Trinacria photo/