ABOUT 15 years ago, the Indian government purchased the Cray XMP supercomputer to facilitate medium-range weather forecasting. Now, the department of science and technology has asked the Bangalore-based National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) to manufacture a standby for the Cray machine, which is currently being used by the Indian meteorological department (IMD) at its headquarters in Delhi.
U N Sinha, head of the parallel processing unit at NAL, points out that Flosolver, the supercomputer made by his team, will cost just Rs 5 million, compared to Rs 200 million for the Cray, although both have the same computing power.
To convince IMD weather forecasters of the prowess of their machine, the NAL boffins used a smaller version of the Flosolver, using 4 processors to operate the 50,000-line meteorological code used for the complex weather forecasting model used by IMD. Although the machine took more time than the Cray to process the code, Sinha says that the Flosolver to be installed at IMD will have 8 processors to enable it to match the speed of the Cray.
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