Faster, stronger – Increasing the supercomputing prowess of India | 30th May 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about the wide applications of the Super Computers other than weather forecasting for India.


  • GS3: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology, Bio-technology and issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights;
  • Prelims


  • Later this year, India will have a new ‘supercomputer’ or, more correctly, an upgraded ‘high performance computing (HPC)’ system (18 petaflops) that will arguably be its fastest.
  • This system is to be made and installed by the French corporation, Atos — an information technology service and consulting company.
  • The Union government signed a deal in December 2018 with France to procure high-performance computers worth ₹4,500 crore by 2025.
  • These HPC systems will run at two institutions, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, and the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, Noida, that currently host two of India’s most powerful such machines, Mihir and Pratyush.

What is a supercomputer?

  • A supercomputer is a computer with a high level of performance compared to a general-purpose computer.
  • Performance of a supercomputer is measured in floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) instead of million instructions per second (MIPS).
  • Floating point operations per second (FLOPS) are an indicator of computer processing abilities and 1 petaflop is a 1,000 trillion flops.
  • Floating-point operations can only be executed on computers with integrated floating-point registers.

India’s supercomputers:

  • India’s first supercomputer, PARAM 8000, was set up in 1990.
  • PARAM Shivay, 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.
  • In 2020, PARAM Siddhi, the High-Performance Computing-Artificial Intelligence (HPC-AI) supercomputer, achieved global ranking of 62nd in Top 500 most powerful supercomputer systems in the world.
  • Overall, India has three supercomputers in the top 500’s overall list. China and the US account for nearly two-thirds of the top 500 supercomputers in the world, with 173 and 128 of the 500 most powerful supercomputers in the world, respectively.

Applications Of Supercomputers:

  • Scientific research: In this field, scientists use a supercomputer to analyse solar systems, satellites and other nuclear research areas.
  • Data mining: Large corporations often use specialised computers to extract useful information from data storage warehouses or a cloud system. For instance, life insurance companies use supercomputers to reduce their actuarial risks.
  • Weather forecasting: The forecasting power of supercomputers helps a climatologist predict the likelihood of rain or snowfall in the neighbourhood. It can also predict the actual path of hurricanes and cyclones and their probability of striking.
  • Intelligence agencies: Government intelligence agencies use supercomputers to monitor communication between private citizens and fraudsters. These agencies primarily need the numerical processing power of supercomputers to encrypt cell phones, emails and satellite transmission.
  • Military and defence: Supercomputing provides military and defence departments with the ability to perform virtual testing of nuclear explosions and weapon ballistics.
  • Automobile: Using supercomputers, an automobile company can help people buy vehicles because before purchasing a vehicle, customers can test the simulation environment created by supercomputers.
  • Smog control system: Many scientists and climatologists use supercomputers in the laboratory for predicting fog and other pollution and smog levels in a particular region.
  • Entertainment industry: The movie industry uses supercomputers to create animations. Also, online gaming companies widely use supercomputers to develop animation games.


  • Like their predecessors, the Atos machines will be used primarily to run sophisticated weather models that, for some years now, are being used to prepare a range of forecasts, from long-term monsoon to fortnightly as well as daily weather changes.
  • While many challenging research questions, apart from weather modelling, are extremely dependent on computing — protein biology, aerospace-modelling applications, and now AI-linked applications — the possession of HPCs is also used as a medallion by countries wanting to signify their technological prowess.

Way Forward:

  • The possession of powerful supercomputers is certainly a reassurance that Indian scientists, wanting to solve intractable problems, can always tap these behemoths, but whether the use of these machines has translated into significant breakthroughs in fundamental science or engineering commercial products is another matter.
  • Much like India has improved its short-term weather forecasts and made cyclone forecasts more accurate on the back of such machines, there should be greater accounting of their worth in other fields, rather than be content with epithets of speed and power.

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