Atos wins deal to build supercomputers for India

PUNE: French IT services firm Atos has won a three-year contract to build the first phase of supercomputers under India’s Rs 4,500-crore National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) as the country looks to create a cluster of machines for weather forecasting, drug discovery and data mining.

The tender to build these highperformance computers (HPC) had been floated by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) in February. Atos would be deploying its energy efficient Direct Liquid Cooled BullSequana supercomputers in India.

The contract is for all three phases of the NSM which would be running simultaneously, said C-DAC director general Hemant Darbari. “In Phase I, we will be assembling three supercomputers at an outlay of Rs 68 crore. In Phase II, it will be an aggregate of 10 petaflop, but the number of computers is yet to be decided,” he said.

The NSM is divided into two key tracks, build and buy, which are being spearheaded by the C-DAC and Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Science respectively. Atos has won the contract for the ‘build’ part of the NSM for which it will partner CDAC in all three phases of the project. While Phase I involves assembling of the supercomputers, in Phase II, certain components like the motherboards would be manufactured locally, and in the third phase, the supercomputer would be designed in India by C-DAC.


In the first phase, IIT-Kharagpur will have a 1.3 petaflop machine and IISER Pune and IIT-BHU will have a 650 teraflop computer each. Atos will source the components from France and assemble the supercomputers in Chennai. “Work will happen simultaneously on all three phases, but each has different stages of delivery. The deliveries under Phase I will start in the first quarter of next year while Phase II would be around Q2 or Q3,” said Arvind Bajaj, head of Atos Bull India.

When exactly the first set of supercomputers are delivered will also depend on whether the data centres at the institutes are ready. While C-DAC has already put out a tender for these, the contract has yet to be awarded.

Atos has a sizeable presence globally in the High performance computing (HPC) business under the Bull brand. In September it unveiled its most powerful supercomputer with a compute power of 12 petaflops in Germany, making it the country’s most powerful supercomputer, coming in at number 16 on the recently released Top500 supercomputer rankings. The company has a supercomputer and server design centre in Bengaluru, which will work closely with C-DAC on subsequent phases of the project.

The NSM is being jointly implemented by the Department of Science and Technology and Department of Electronics and Information Technology at an estimated cost of Rs 4,500 crore over a period of seven years. The mission was announced three years ago with an intent to propel India higher in the global supercomputer rankings. The aim was to build a grid of 73 supercomputers across academic and research institutes in India, working on a wide range of applications, from weather forecasting to disaster management. HPC is important in order for India to make significant progress in various areas, from drug discovery to astrophysics and bioinformatics.


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