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Government planning to rope in private entities for its supercomputing programme

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National Supercomputing Mission, aimed at creating a cluster of 70 indigenously made supercomputers, is set to witness participation from world’s top private makers of PCs such as HP, Lenovo, Dell owned EMC, and IBM.

These entities will assist the government in building supercomputers in India. Talking about this change in mindset in involving private players in a government project for the first time, Rajat Moona, director-general of the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing(C-DAC) said,

Building these super computers requires huge facilities which we don’t have. At present we are in talks with a lot of companies and will soon go to the RFP (request for proposal) stage etc.

It is noteworthy that C-DAC was behind the first supercomputer of India- PARAM. It has previously procured parts from private players but they have not built any supercomputers in India.

National Supercomputing Mission is aimed to align with Make In India initiative so efforts are being made to manufacture most of the parts such as server-board assemblies, cooling solutions, power supply and storage systems in India. Chips will be imported as they are not manufactured in India yet and C-DAC will also control the design of these computers.

So far, two official meetings have already been conducted between Department of electronics and IT (DEITY) and CDAC for carrying an initial discussion with interested private parties.

An official selection process is expected to begin soon for which an expert committee is set up under Alok Bhattacharya of the Jawaharlal Nehru University who will look at the applications for the supercomputers.

The inclination of government to involve private players for such huge initiative has been met with an enthusiastic response from the industry.

We have been in touch with the government, and it is great that they are building it in partnership with the private sector. The government doesn’t need to invest in technology from ground zero when they have multinationals having global R&D facilities around it.

said Lenovo India MD Rahul Agarwal.

The mission worth INR 4500 crore was first introduced last year and was recently passed by the Union Cabinet. Under the mission, the government aims to develop 70 supercomputers over the next 7 years.

One supercomputer is already under development at Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and is expected to get ready by next year.

These supercomputers will also be connected with the National Knowledge Network which is a government program to connect academic institutions and R&D labs over a high-speed network.

As of November 2015, India has 11 supercomputers among world’s 500 most powerful supercomputers. India  is ranked 74th in global supercomputing pecking order. China leads the list also having the distinction to develop the world’s fastest supercomputer- Tianhe-2.

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