General Studies IIIScience and Tech

National Supercomputing Mission


Recently, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bengaluru installed the supercomputer ‘Param Pravega’. It has a supercomputing capacity of 3.3 petaflops.

What is a Supercomputer?

  • A supercomputer is a computer with a high level of performance as compared to a general-purpose computer.
  • The performance of a supercomputer is commonly measured in floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) instead of million instructions per second (MIPS).
  • Since 2017, there are supercomputers which can perform over a hundred quadrillion FLOPS (petaFLOPS).
  • Since November 2017, all of the world’s fastest 500 supercomputers run Linux-based operating systems.

About National Supercomputing Mission:

  • NSM is a proposed plan by GoI to create a cluster of seventy supercomputers connecting various academic and research institutions across India.
  • In April 2015 the government approved the NSM with a total outlay of Rs.4500 crore for a period of 7 years.
  • The mission was set up to provide the country with supercomputing infrastructure to meet the increased computational demands of academia, researchers, MSMEs, and startups by creating the capability design, manufacturing, of supercomputers indigenously in India.
  • Currently, there are four supercomputers from India in the Top 500 list of supercomputers in the world.

Aims and objectives

  • The target of the mission was set to establish a network of supercomputers ranging from a few Tera Flops (TF) to Hundreds of Tera Flops (TF) and three systems with greater than or equal to 3 Peta Flops (PF) in academic and research institutions of National importance across the country by 2022.
  • This network of Supercomputers envisaging a total of 15-20 PF was approved in 2015 and was later revised to a total of 45 PF (45000 TFs), a jump of 6 times more compute power within the same cost and capable of solving large and complex computational problems.

When did India initiate its efforts to build supercomputers?

  • India’s supercomputer programme initiated in the late 1980s, when the United States ceased the export of a Cray Supercomputer due to technology embargos.
  • This resulted in India setting up C-DAC in 1988, which in 1991, unveiled the prototype of PARAM 800, benchmarked at 5 Gflops. This supercomputer was the second-fastest in the world at that time.
  • Since June 2018, the USA’s Summit is the fastest supercomputer in the world, taking away this position from China.
  • As of January 2018, Pratyush and Mihir are the fastest supercomputers in India with a maximum speed of Peta Flops.

Supercomputers in India

  • The supercomputer was established earlier this year, under the National Supercomputer Mission (NSM) and is going to be installed in the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing’s (C-DAC) unit.
  • Supercomputers developed in India are:
    • Mihir: Mihir (146th on the list), clubs with Pratyush to generate enough computing power to match PARAM-Siddhi.
    • PARAM-Siddhi:  It is the high-performance computing-artificial intelligence (HPC-AI) supercomputer, and has achieved a global ranking of 62 in the TOP 500 most powerful supercomputer systems in the world.
    • Pratyush: It is a supercomputer used for weather forecasting at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, ranked 78th on the November edition of the list.
    • PARAM Shivay, -It is the first supercomputer assembled indigenously, was installed in IIT (BHU), followed by PARAM Shakti, PARAM Brahma, PARAM Yukti, PARAM Sanganak at IIT-Kharagpur IISER, Pune, JNCASR, Bengaluru and IIT Kanpur respectively.

Powerful supercomputers

Japanese supercomputer Fugaku (442 petaflops) and IBM’s Summit (148.8 petaflops) are the two most powerful supercomputers in the world.

Application of Supercomputing

  • Weather Forecasting
  • Scientific Research
  • Data Mining

Challenges of Supercomputing in India

  • Lack of Research & Development in India.
  • Lack of Funding.
  • Limited manufacturing of electronics used in Supercomputing missions.


  • The mission is meeting the increased computational demands of academia, researchers, MSMEs, and startups in areas like oil exploration, flood prediction as well as genomics and drug discovery.
  • The mission has created the next generation of supercomputer experts by training more than 4500 HPC aware manpower and faculties.
  • Powered by the NSM, India’s network of research institutions, in collaboration with the industry, is scaling up the technology and manufacturing capability to make more and more parts in India.
    • While in Phase I, 30 per cent value addition is done in India that has been scaled up to 40 per cent in Phase II.
    • Completion of Phase II of NSM in September 2021 will take the country’s computing power to 16 Petaflops (PF).
    • Phase III, initiated this year, will take the computing speed to around 45 Petaflops.
      • This will include three systems of 3 PF each and one system of 20PF as a national facility.
    • The three phases will provide access to High-Performance Computing (HPC) Facilities to around 75 institutions and more than thousands of active researchers, academicians working through Nation Knowledge Network (NKN) – the backbone for supercomputing systems.
  • India has developed an Indigenous server (Rudra), which can meet the HPC requirements of all governments and PSUs.
  • MoUs have been signed with a total of 14 premier institutions of India for establishing Supercomputing Infrastructure with Assembly and Manufacturing in India.


Supercomputing vs. High performance computing (HPC)Supercomputing vs. Parallel computing  Supercomputing vs. Quantum computing  
While supercomputing typically referee to the process of complex and large calculations used by supercomputers, HPC is the use of multiple supercomputers to process complex and large calculations.Supercomputers are sometimes called parallel computers because supercomputing can use parallel processing.

Parallel processing it’s when multiple CPUs work on solving a single calculation at a given time.

Supercomputers could use other processor systems, like vector processor, scalar processors or multithreaded processors.
Quantum computing model that harness the laws of quantum mechanics to process data, performing computations based on probabilities.

It aims to solve complex problems the world’s most powerful supercomputers can’t solve and never will.

Source: Indian Express

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