Tata World - EKA Supercomputer

EKA, is a supercomputer built by the Computational Research Laboratories (CRL) with technical assistance and hardware provided by Hewlett-Packard. When it was installed in November 2007, it was the 4th fastest in the world and fastest in Asia. The machine had to race against 500 other heavyweights from the world over to achieve this distinction. It was built in a record time of six weeks and at a cost of around 118 crore rupees. 

 

Why EKA is special?

EKA has 1,794 computing nodes and has a theoretical peak performance of 172.2 Teraflops (tflops* or trillion floating point operations per second) and a sustained performance of 132.8 teraflops based on the LINPACK benchmarks which are used by the worldwide community to rank supercomputers based on performance.

EKA follows a near-circular layout of the data centre unlike the traditional hot aisle and cold aisle rows. This near-circular layout enables the building of densely packed supercomputers, and this is the first time this architecture has been tried out on this scale. The EKA supercomputer has been built using CLOS architecture with off-the-shelf servers and Infiniband interconnect technologies with GNU/Linux as the operating system. Infiniband is a switched fabric (a particular layout or structure of a network) communications link used in high-performance computing. This is the first ever site in the world which has used the dual data rate Infiniband with fibre-optic cable technology.

Eka has 15,000 processors (CPUs), needs 400 tonnes of cooling, and occupies 4,000 square feet of space. The project faced multiple challenges. For the first time in the world, fibre optic cables were used to connect the various CPUs. The space which Eka occupies is one-and-a-half to two times less than what a similar machine would have required.

India's moment of pride

It is for the first time ever that India has figured in the 'Top 10 Supercomputer Sites' list. The credit for this creation goes to a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons - the Computational Research Laboratories (CRL).

* What is FLOPS?

FLOPS is an acronym meaning FLoating point OPerations per Second. It is a measure of a computer's performance, especially in fields of scientific calculations that make heavy use of floating point calculations, similar to the older, simpler, instructions per second. In computing, floating point describes a system for representing numbers that would be too large or too small to be represented as integers. It refers to the fact that the decimal/binary point can be placed anywhere relative to the significant digits of the number.