Tata's 'Eka' - 4th Fastest Super Computer

Date:   Wednesday , April 02, 2008

The supercomputer facility at the Computational Research Laboratories (CRL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Sons Ltd, has been ranked as the 4th fastest supercomputer in the world and the fastest in Asia, according to the Top500 Supercomputer list announced at SC07, the International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis at Reno, Nevada, USA. Called Eka, which means ‘one’ in Sanskrit, this super machine, developed at the Tata Group’s CRL lab in Pune, is the fastest computer in Asia and the first one developed using corporate funding, said S. Ramadorai, Chairman, CRL, and CEO & MD, Tata Consultancy Services, at a news conference in Mumbai.

CRL built the supercomputer facility using dense data center layout, novel network routing, and parallel processing library technologies. Eka, which is a Hewlett-Packard based system, uses nearly 1800 computing nodes and has a peak performance of 170 Teraflops. (TFlops, or Trillion Floating Point Operations per Second) and a sustained performance of 120 Teraflops based on the LINPACK benchmarks which are used by the world-wide community to rank supercomputers based on their performance.

Eka, the CRL supercomputer follows a near-circular layout of the data center unlike the traditional Hot Aisle & 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 CRL supercomputer has been built using CLOS Architecture with off-the-shelf servers and Infiniband Interconnect technologies with a Linux open source operating system. This is the first ever site in the world which has used the Dual Data Rate Infiniband with fiber-optic cable technology for superior performance.

Eka was developed with an investment of Rs. 120 crore ($30 million) in six weeks’ time, funded entirely by Tata Sons. The supercomputer is built with standard hardware and Linux operating system to address the issue of application scalability, which has been the bane of supercomputing till date.

The Tata Group now intends to market the supercomputers’ capabilities to potential customers. “We are in active negotiations with government and private agencies,” said Ramadorai. Group company Tata Elxsi and aircraft maker Boeing have been using the supercomputer on a pilot basis.