Super Computers

This article deals with ‘Super Computers .’ This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles on Science and Technology, you can click here

Super Computers

  • Super-Computers are computers with gigaflop capabilities.
  • Currently, American “Summit” is the fastest Computer. But China has the most number of Supercomputers in the Top 500.
  • Uses: Super Computers are used where large processing power is required. Their uses include
    • Weather forecasting (eg: timely warning of cyclones)
    • Codebreaking
    • Genetic analysis
    • Scientific research (like at CERN)
    • Data Mining & Big Data Analysis
Super Computers

National Supercomputing Mission

  • It was launched in 2015.
  • It is the joint mission of the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and implemented by C-DAC & IISc (Bangalore).
  • The mission envisages empowering academic and R&D institutions by installing a supercomputing grid comprising more than 70 high-performance computing (HPC) facilities. 
  • PARAM Shivay is the first supercomputer built under this project and installed at IIT-BHU.  Later, Param Shakti was installed in IIT-Kharagpur and Param Brahma was installed in IISER-Pune.
  • Under the mission, India has also signed an agreement with French company Atos to design and instal a supercomputer named BullsSequana.

Supercomputers of India

  1. Pratyush
  2. Mihir
  3. Sahastra T
  4. TIFR Colour Boson
  5. Param
  6. Saga 220

Pratyush and Mihir

  • Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has set up a high-performance computing (HPC) system consisting of two supercomputers Mihir and Pratyush (which can be connected with each other to solve high-level computations).
    • Pratyush installed at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune having a capacity of 4 petaflops.
    • Mihir installed at  National Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting, Noida having a capacity of 2.8 petaflops
    • (=> giving a total capacity of 6.8 petaflops.)
  • It is India’s first multi-petaflop supercomputer and is the fourth fastest supercomputer in the world which is dedicated to weather and climate research after Japan, U.S.A.  and United Kingdom.
  • It has also taken India up from the earlier 365th position to top 30 in the infrastructural ranking of Top 500 HPC facilities in the world.

Saga 220

  • SAGA = Supercomputer for Aerospace with GPU Architecture
  • SAGA 220 is a supercomputer built by ISRO in 2011 with 220 Teraflops peak performance. It can be scaled up to Petaflop (i.e. 1000 Teraflop) capability.
  • Use: Space scientists use it to solve complex aerospace problems.
  • The project is worth (just) 14 crore and it consumes a power of only 150 kilowatts (=> It is presented as a Model of cheap and environmentally green Super-computer).

Quantum Computer

  • Quantum Computer is the computer design that uses the principle of quantum physics to increase computational power beyond what is attainable by a traditional computer.
  • Normal computer functions by using 1s and 0s retained in electronic components such as transistors. But Quantum Computer would store information as either 1,0 or a quantum superposition of two states enhancing computational capabilities.
  • The basic unit of quantum computing the qubit (quantum + bit). While the bit in conventional computers is either a digital “1″ or “0”, the qubit can contain “1″, “0” or ‘or a quantum superposition of two states”.

Applications of Quantum Computers

  • High-level R&D with the help of simulations.
  • Quantum communications are very secure and fast.
  • Quantum Cryptography
  • Big Data Analysis
  • Deep Learning
  • Quantum computing can bring down the space needed to store data.

Steps taken by India to promote Quantum Computing

  • Budget 2020 announced that the Government of India will start the National Mission on Quantum Technologies for a period of 5 years.
  • Department of Science and Technology started Mission Mode Project called QuST (Quantum Science and Technology) aimed at making Quantum Computer.
  • Quantum Communication based Satellite named QuEST (Quantum Experiments Using Satellite Technology) is being built by ISRO. 
  • Niti Aayog has pitched for using Quantum Computing for Big Data Analysis.

Challenges of Quantum Computers

  • Quantum Computers have the potential to decode and crack the world’s encrypted data by breaching security measures easily, thus posing threat to data as well as internal security.
  • Hardware difficulties in developing a system such as qubits which are made from silicon atoms and work at a very low temperature, near-zero degree kelvin.
  • Funding issues as huge funds are required to set up labs.
  • Issues in building Public-Private and Academia-Industry Partnership.

Grid Computing

  • Grid Computing is the cheapest model to make supercomputer using unused power of computers that are on the same network.
  • It is the emerging computing model which provides the ability to perform higher throughput by taking advantage of many networked computers.
  • It is the parallel division of labour between processes. It uses the resources of many separate computers connected by a network usually the internet to solve large scale computational problems.
  • A large problem is solved by breaking it into smaller parts.
Grid Computing

Common features of Grid Computing

  • It is the model for solving the massive computational problem by making use of unused resources of a large number of computers.
  • It has the design goal of solving problems too big for any single supercomputer.

Applications of Grid Computing

Climate Modelling It can solve the massive computational problem by means of combining unutilised power in thousands of personal computers worldwide.
Educational institutions It provides a cheaper option for educational institutions using a cluster of standard computers that can achieve teraflop performance. Usually, such educational institutions can’t afford the cost of the supercomputer.
Government agencies Grid Computing can be used to combine geographically spread high-performance computing resources to tackle national tasks like electoral rolls or tax databases.

Other Developments in Grid Computing

Garuda It is an Indian Grid Computing initiative connecting 17 cities across India & 45 participating institutions.
World Community Grid  (WCG) Supported by IBM which has donated hardware, software & technical services.
One can join WCG by downloading software application from the internet.
When the computer is idling, this software programme will use its power to work on the grid’s project & when it is in normal use, the software will stop working for the grid.


  • Memcomputer is a new type of computer that works by mimicking the human brain.
  • In conventional computers, processing & memory occur at separate places. Hence, it consumes time & energy putting limitations on computations. But in Memcomputers, processing & storage occur at the same place (just like our brain) leading to fast processing.
  • The processing capability of the order of Quantum Computers which operate at extremely low temperature can be achieved in memcomputers operating at normal temperature.

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