Tatas supercomputer Eka begins pilot work for commercial applications

Written by MG Arun | Mumbai, May 22 | Updated: May 24 2008, 04:20am hrs
Barely six months after announcing that its supercomputer Eka ranked fourth in the global Top 500 Supercomputer Sites List, Computational Research Laboratories (CRL)a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons in Pune, has begun pilot projects of several applications that would lead to commercialization.

According to sources close to the development, the main application areas are in aerospace and aerodynamics, automotive design and engineering, academics, animation, weather forecasting and so on, and CRL has teams are working on a library of software tools which will work with the application package to take it to the commercial stage. CRL is working on several pilot projects. It is the question of the right application software being ported, tested and working on that hardware, sources said. Although the company would use some of these application in house, be it for Tata Motors or Tata Elxsi, much of the revenues would flow in from outside the Tata Group, mostly from abroad.

In November last year, CRL has said that it had installed a HP Cluster Platform 3000 BL460c system at Pune. This system was then integrated with CRLs own innovative routing technology to achieve 117.9 TFlop/s (teraflops or trillions of calculations per second) performance, ranking fourth behind IBMs BlueGene/L System in the US, IBNMs BlueGene/P system in Germany and Silicon Graphics system in New Mexico.

CRL teams are working concurrently on both further making the system faster, while trying out several application areas. There is a whole bunch of people working on specific application areas, sources said. Linux is the main operating system (OS), but based on the OS, you need various tools and software programmes - application software that needs to be ported on it and tried out. Even then, yet another group is trying to see how this can be made faster, they added.

Within India, there isnt that much advanced design work that would really put the supercomputer to use. So, the availability by itself will not lead to a major demand within India. Only the likes of Boeing and the Airbus, or automotive companies abroad that would use the technology, apart from companies like Tata Motors and M&M, who do some top-end design work. Sources said, Boeing might require this since they are at the cutting edge of aerodynamics and aerospace design. Same thing with an Airbus or a Lockheed. In automotive also, companies could look at computational fluid dynamics (CFD) for conducting crash tests and the like, adding that Not much of this is Tata group dependent. We have the world market to tap. Within the Tata group, each company takes its own decisions on what is required. An animation company like Tata Elixi might be interested but it is a question of what price and what power suits them. Similarly, TCS may have a problem, but they will see what price and other terms will suit them.