Director, Innovative Computing Laboratory
The Top500 list
ranks the world's top 500 powerful supercomputers,
and is the only one of its kind to be recognized
globally. This year marked the entry of C-DAC's
Terascale Supercomputing System PARAM Padma into
the much-coveted list at a ranking of 171. This
is the first time that an Indian Supercomputer
has made it to the list, displaying our technological
competency in the arena of supercomputing
Here, Jack Dongarra, of the Top500 list applauds
India's efforts reflected through PARAM Padma
housed at C-DAC's Terascale Supercomputing Facility
Bangalore, in an article on the trend of developing
is the timekeeper in a race that has no finish
line and no winner's circle - just leaders whose
tenuous hold on first place is determined by trillionths
of a second.
of the industry's "Top
500 List" for more than a decade, Dongarra,
professor at the University of Tennesse and a
researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has
watched the speed of the world's fastest computers
double every 18 months or so.
says he is even more surprised by the rate at
which cutting-edge supercomputing has moved into
computer I'm using today - an IBM Think Pad with a Pentium III processor - would
have ranked as one of the 500 fastest computers
in the world in 1995," he says.
Most people probably
aren't even aware of the ways in which supercomputing
touches their daily lives. It helps forecast the
weather, design new drugs, search for oil, animate
Hollywood's cartoon movies and improve homeland
supercomputers even help answer the most trivial
processors that the Google search engine uses
to search the Web would surely rank among the
top 500 supercomputers," Dongarra says. "But
its system is so busy that they can't stop long
enough to run our benchmark test."
Two decades ago,
a "gigaOPS" was the Holy Grail of supercomputing
- a then-blazing computational speed first attained
by a Cray 2 supercomputer in 1985. For under $1,000
anyone today can buy a personal computer capable
of several gigaOPS, or a billion calculations
But if today's
desktop computing crunch numbers at prodigious
rates, today's supercomputers puree them - performing
calculations so swiftly that speeds must now be
measured in "teraOPS", trillions of
operations a second.
And they are
likely to pass the next major milestone - a "petaOPS",
or quadrillion operations a second - before the
end of the decade.
For the moment,
the apex of Dongarra's closely watched list is
occupied by Japan's Earth Simulator, a $500 million
machine that consumes more electricity than most
office buildings and churns out more than 35 trillion
calculations a second.
built by the Japanese government to model global
temperatures, predict natural disasters and simulate
the entire solid Earth as a system, is housed
in a specially cooled four-story building in Yokohama.
says Earth Simulator's grip on first is likely
to be short-lived.
and countries, bragging rights to supercomputing
prowess are indisputable. India proudly proclaimed
this year that its Ultimate lotus 'PARAM
Padma' supercomputer in Bangalore made it
the latest country to join the "teraOPS club,"
which includes the United States, Japan, France,
Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, China and