OT - Slash Dot,com: "A `super' performance by Linux , NRI builds India's first supercomputer running on the OS" - first China, now India...

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A `super' performance by Linux
NRI builds India's first supercomputer running on the OS

By Srinivasa Prasad

BANGALORE: An NRI from Bangalore has developed India's first commercial supercomputer based on the Linux operating system. It costs just a fraction of what a conventional Cray does but works nearly as fast.

Mahesh Jayachandra, 37, who has built two models of a supercomputer in a cramped office block on Bangalore's Mahatma Gandhi Road, is not a computer prodigy. In fact, he is a neurophysiologist who studied in Bangalore and Pune and went on to New York.

``The two models -- Peacock and Maya -- will cost between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh each, while a Cray costs nearly $10 million, or about Rs 50 crore,'' he explains. ``Standard benchmarks have demonstrated that Peacock and Maya achieve performances comparable to supercomputers costing millions of dollars.''

Jayachandra, a brain scientist currently associated with the physiology department of St John's Medical College in the city, hit upon the idea of developing an economically viable supercomputer that is useful to his own research work.

Linux-based supercomputers have been developed and are being used widely by universities and other agencies in the United States. But it is for the first time that a similar system has been developed in India and is being made available for sale.

A supercomputer that is capable of handling large-scale computing at breakneck speeds has a wide range of applications in many areas, including defence, space, medicine, meteorology and the Internet. Industry sources say the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) is making a supercomputer in which research organisations of the defence ministry are showing a keen interest.

What Jayachandra has developed with help of a band of committed computer professionals -- who have had extensive Linux training in the US for about 10 years -- operates on the easy-to-learn Linux technology.

Linux is a 32-bit multi-tasking, multi-user operating system that runs on most computers and inter-operates well with other systems like Apple, Microsoft or Novell. Linux gurus claim it comes with robust software which is being constantly improved in the ``largest collaborative effort by programmers worldwide''.

Besides, Linux is free, built around the ``open source philosophy'' which makes it a technology that is neither dependent nor controlled by any single individual, company or country. ``Our systems are built from standard, off-the-shelf components easily available in Indian markets,'' Jayachandra points out. ``We bought some of the components on Subedar Chatram Road,'' he says, half in jest.

The knowhow was freely available on the Web. ``All we needed was to find where the information was available, some technical savvy and a lot of patience.''

To develop and market the supercomputers, Jayachandra has incorporated Peacock Solutions Private Ltd as the wholly Indian subsidiary of the New York-based NRI group's Peacock Systems.

Jayachandra kept a crude version of this supercomputing system at last month's Bangalore IT.Com. Many disbelieving scientists and computer professionals made a beeline for his stall. Now the whole system is neatly packaged into rack-mounted ready-to-use mobile enclosures.

(Jayachandra can be reached through www.peacocksys.com or at supercomputing@indiatimes.com)


-- John Whitley (jwhitley@inforamp.net), January 08, 2000


I don't know of any supercomputers running on Microsucks. :o) That Linux can do it is a big plus. Maybe "trickle down" will create more acceptance of Linux in the PC area. Die, Microsucks, die!!

-- A (A@AisA.com), January 08, 2000.

Linux, simply the best operating system available in the world today. Ask China.

-- Michael Erskine (Osiris@urbanna.net), January 08, 2000.

Can any programmers talk about the advantages of Linux? What do you like about it? Educate us Linux wonderers!

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), January 09, 2000.

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