BENGALURU — French IT services firm Atos has won a three-year contract to build the first phase of supercomputers under India’s $650 million National Supercomputing Mission (NSM). The supercomputers will be used to create a cluster of 70 machines for weather forecasting, drug discovery and data mining.

The tender for these high-performance computers (HPC) had been floated by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) in February, according to a report in The Economic Times.

Atos, a global leader in digital transformation with an annual revenue of € 13 billion, would be deploying its energy efficient Direct Liquid Cooled BullSequana supercomputers in India. Atos’s HPC R&D has designed the BullSequana X series of servers to provide maximum flexibility in terms of interconnect, power, and cooling, and cover the widest possible spectrum of applications. The BullSequana X supercomputers offer an infinitely adaptable response, with a large choice of compute nodes, accelerated nodes and specialized nodes. And this multitude of components can be combined, in a completely customized way, into a single system and managed as a single system using the Bull supercomputer suite.

"We are honoured to be given this opportunity by the Indian authorities to be part of the NSM initiative and to become the technology partner of C-DAC for HPC-related platforms. We're proud to be supporting India as one of the major markets with its strong growth expectations. The choice of the Indian government is testament to our experience and expertise in high-performance supercomputing and I am delighted that our BullSequana, with its unique Direct Liquid Cooling platform, will be enabling Indian academic and research institutions to accelerate their research," said Pierre Barnabe, Chief Operating Officer, Big Data & Security at Atos.

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 $9.7 million. In Phase II, it will be an aggregate of 10 petaflop, but the number of computers is yet to be decided,” he said. In the first phase, Indian Institute of Technology – Kharagpur (IIT-Kharagpur) will have a 1.3 petaflop machine and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune (IISER Pune) and Indian Institute of Technology, Varanasi (IIT-BHU) will have a 650 teraflop computer each, ET report said.

The NSM is divided into two key tracks, build and buy, which are being carried out by the C-DAC and Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Science (IISc – Bengaluru) respectively.

Atos has won the contract for the ‘build’ part of the NSM for which it will partner C-DAC in all three phases. 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.

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 2019 while Phase II would be around Q2 or Q3,” said Arvind Bajaj, head of Atos Bull India.

Atos has a strong 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 Top 500 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.

— Sufia Tippu is a freelance tech journalist based in India contributing to EE Times India