India’s third biggest software services company Wipro Ltd is building the nation’s fastest supercomputer for space agency Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to help the agency crunch large volumes of data that is critical for designing complex launch vehicles, Indian business daily Mint reported.

The supercomputer will have a processing speed of 200-500 teraflops, which is at least twice faster than ISRO’s current supercomputing capability.

The supercomputer is being built at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center in the south Indian city of Thiruvananthapuram, where it houses an existing supercomputer with a speed of 70 teraflops.

Processing of one trillion mathematical instructions a second is the ability of one teraflop.

The report quoted director of ISRO, P S Veeraraghavan as saying that the supercomputer may be commissioned in about three months with an investment running into a few millions of rupees though he declined to give a specific figure.

The new supercomputer will be used for advanced computational fluid dynamic (CFD) studies that will help scientists build virtual prototypes of a launch system and simulate physical and chemical changes to predict performance, said Veeraraghavan.

While ISRO is said to be working on a reusable launch vehicle, the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center played a key role in designing and developing launch vehicles such as the workhorse polar satellite launch vehicle and the recent geosynchronous launch vehicle that failed.

On the other hand, Wipro, which is building the supercomputer for ISRO, will establish the capability of its Supernova range of supercomputers in partnership with US-based Z Research Inc.

Wipro Infotech is aiming to build a capability of up to 500 teraflops or 0.5 petaflops for ISRO, Ashok Tripathy, head of systems and technology division of Wipro Infotech said.

Wipro’s supercomputer at 200 teraflops is set to top Eka at 132.8 teraflops, which is India’s current fastest supercomputer at the Tata Sons subsidiary of Computational Research Laboratories in the western Indian city of Pune.

The Hewlett-Packard Co’s supercomputing technology that is being used by the supercomputer at CRL is used in the field of high performance computation services, and research and development.
Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) in Pune houses the next fastest supercomputer PARAM at 38.1 teraflops. This supercomputer is designed for general science, engineering and business applications.

“The Eka was made in 2007...we should have doubled our capacity by now, but we’re not making the right investments in terms of money and effort. We should not stop at this now, but go on. We have the capability to go up to petaflops in this country,” N Balakrishnan, head of the Supercomputing Education and Research Center (SERC) at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore was quoted as saying in the report.

He said supercomputing will be increasingly relevant not only in traditional high-technology areas of defence, space and weather, but also in new fields related to biology and biotechnology.

The SERC maintains a listing of India’s top supercomputers at http://topsupercomputers-india.iisc.ernet.in, complementing the well-known top 500 list at www.top500.org. This listing shows that the combined capability of India’s top 19 supercomputers is 305.9 teraflops, at an average of 16.1 teraflops.

An indigenous supercomputer at 0.5 petaflops would be a significant achievement for India, but will still not make the top 10 of the most advanced supercomputers in the world.
Tianhe-1A in Tianjin, China with a speed of 2.57 petaflops is the world’s most powerful supercomputer, according to www.top500.org.

It displaced the venerable Cray system, the Cray XT5 Jaguar at the US department of energy’s Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility in Tennessee, which boasted 1.76 petaflops.
The third most powerful is also a Chinese system, the Nebulae, at 1.27 petaflops.

India’s Eka featured at No 8 in the global top 500 list in June 2008, however, declined to 47 now.

The US dominates the list of the world’s fastest 50 supercomputers, with a sprinkling of systems from countries such as France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Brazil and Russia. But, it is the continued rise of Chinese capability in the list.

IBM Corp. leads the supercomputing market share, followed by Cray Inc and HP.