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India building 20,000-strong network to take on challenges of mighty supercomputers

The Kashmir Monitor

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This year, a supercomputer from India took 39th position in the TOP500 list, the highest-ever position achieved by the country. And, if an ambitious project by the Centre goes as planned, within the next five years, an army of 20,000 technology experts from India will form one of the world’s strongest human networks to handle the challenges of supercomputers. The Indian Express explains India’s strategy to amp up its presence in the world of supercomputers, and the challenges in its way.

National Supercomputing Mission (NSM)

Launched in 2015, NSM is the only dedicated programme launched to boost India’s supercomputing capacity. The Rs 4,500-crore, seven-year-long programme is spearheaded by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), under the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). As part of the programme, a network of over 70 supercomputers will be installed in multiple national-level research and academic institutions. These machines will be part of the National Supercomputing grid over the National Knowledge Network (NKN), which will have wide-scale applications in the fields of climate modelling, weather prediction, aerospace engineering , computational biology, molecular dynamics, atomic energy simulations, national security and defence applications, seismic analysis, disaster prediction and management, computational chemistry, big data analytics, finance and more. By March next year, the first three supercomputers under NSM will be operational at Banaras Hindu University (IIT), Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER),Pune and IIT-Kharagpur.

 

Largest trained manpower for supercomputers

Under NSM, the long-term plan is to build a strong base of 20,000 skilled persons who will be equipped to handle the complexities of supercomputers. They will be trained over the next five years and will become one of the largest ever dedicated human resource bases equipped to use these mighty computers. Several IITs and NITs, along with the C-DAC, are presently conducting courses and training sessions for the mission, and about 2,000 people have already been trained.

PARAM Shavak is one such machine that has been deployed to provide training. So far, 2,000 people have been successfully trained and over 100 courses are being conducted for this purpose. PARAM Shavak, which is best suited for research or academic institutions, will soon switch to using advanced computational facilities for research purposes.

How India fares in the world of supercomputers

Presently, Pratyush, installed at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, is the fastest supercomputer in India and ranks 39th in the world.

Launched in January 2018, it is the fourth fastest High Performance Computer (HPC) dedicated to climate modelling in the world. Its peak capacity is 4 Petaflops in compute, it has 9 Petabytes of storage capacity and 30 Petabytes of archival capacity.

According to the latest TOP500 list of fastest supercomputers in the world, India has four systems among the world’s fastest 500 systems. Mihir, ranked 66th, has been installed at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), New Delhi. Two other systems, ranked 206th and 497th, are presently operating at a software company and at IITM, respectively. Though India may not be at par with the US or China when it comes to supercomputers, experts feel that India is definitely among the top ranking countries, and is at par with Russia and some European countries. In collective capacity building terms, India’s supercomputers offer a wide range of applications and usage.

Key challenges and future plans

The biggest challenge for India, according to tech experts, is limited funding. Even though India took its first steps in supercomputer programming during the late 1980s, it made slow progress in the following three decades. Limited investments and delayed release of funds slowed things down further. This is one of the main reasons why India, which has the capacity to build a world-class system, has never reached the top position in the rankings. Only 10 per cent of its total budget for NSM has been released at the end of three years. While India’s stronghold is in the field of software development, it has to depend on imports to procure the hardware components required for building supercomputers.

But the situation is changing, with India now venturing into design, manufacture and assembly of hardware components. This will not only cut down import costs, it will also ensure that while assembling supercomputers, applications are tailored to address problems that are specific to India.


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Bose Frames AR Audio Sunglasses Launched in India, Priced at Rs. 21,900

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Over a year after originally showcasing its audio AR sunglasses, Bose is bringing them to the Indian market. The company on Thursday announced that the sunglasses, which are simply known as Bose Frames, will go on sale beginning next week in the country alongside Bose Frames Lens Collection. The Bose Frames combine three functionalities into one device – premium sunglasses, wireless headphones, and audio AR features. The Bose Frames are the company’s first product to be based on the company’s AR platform.

The Bose Frames carry a price tag of Rs. 21,900 and will be offered in two universal styles – the larger Alto and the smaller Rondo. The Bose Frames Lens Collection of non-polarised and polarised lenses will retail at Rs. 1,990 and Rs. 2,990, respectively. The sales open June 20 via select resellers and Bose stores in the country.

The Bose Frames are essentially a pair of sunglasses that pack a tiny Bose audio system in the temples. This audio system effectively turns them into a wireless pair of headphones. The Bose Frames also include a microphone and multi-function button on the right temple for power and pairing, Siri and Google Assistant, calls and commands, or to pause and skip songs.

 

“With a proprietary open-ear design, they [Bose Frames] take micro-acoustics, voice control, and personal audio to an entirely new level, so users can stream music and information, take and make calls, and access virtual assistants from — while keeping playlists, entertainment, and conversations private,” Bose said in a statement.

Like many wearable devices, the Bose Frames act as a companion device to your smartphone and need the same for processing the information and connecting to the Web.

As we mentioned earlier, the Bose Frames will be released in two designs – Alto and Rondo. Alto is square and angled, whereas Rondo is round and smaller. Both can block up to 99 percent of UVA/UVB rays and weigh just 45 grams. The lenses can be easily popped out and replaced.

Apart from the audio capabilities, the Frames are also compatible with Bose’s AR platform. The Bose Frames don’t include any visual AR capabilities, but they can provide audio AR input to enhance your experience.

“[Bose Frames] knows where you are and what you’re facing using a 9-axis head motion sensor and the GPS from your iOS or Android device — and automatically adds a layer of audio through Bose AR apps, connecting that place and time to endless possibilities for travel, learning, entertainment, gaming, and more,” Bose explained.

Bose AR apps can be downloaded using Bose Connect app and are only available for iOS right now. Android apps are being developed, according to the company’s website.

The company claims that onboard battery can last up to 3.5 hours for playback and up to 12 hours on standby. It can be fully recharged in less than two hours.

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Novel device can quickly detect strokes

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Scientists have developed a device that can monitor blood flow and help quickly diagnose and treat strokes.

A stroke, one of the leading causes of death worldwide, occurs due to poor blood flow to the brain — a condition known as cerebral ischemia.

Its diagnosis must be done within the first few hours for treatment to be effective, researchers said.

 

The hybrid device, developed by researchers at the China Academy of Engineering Physics and Army Medical University in China, relies on a combination of to light measuring techniques which could diagnose cerebral ischemia non-invasively and faster than the techniques used currently.

“We can measure blood volume, blood oxygenation and blood flow using suitable near-infrared techniques,” said Liguo Zhu, from China Academy of Engineering Physics.

Zhu said that “near-infrared light penetrates one to three centimetres and allows researchers to probe under the skin.”

The working of the instrument relies on the combination of the near-infrared diffuse optical spectroscopy, which analyses the light scattered from the tissues to calculate the amount of oxygen and blood within an area, and the diffuse correlation spectroscopy, which analyses fluctuation in the tissue-scattered lights to measure blood flow.

“Both techniques share the same detectors, which decreases the number of detectors compared to other instruments,” said Zhu.

“The team’s device can record a comprehensive profile of a body part’s hemodynamics, or blood circulation. Devices should measure as many ‘hemodynamic parameters’ as necessary to obtain an accurate diagnosis, as ‘the hemodynamics of stroke is complex’,” said Hua Feng, from Army Medical University.

Another advantage of the device is that it is cheap and compact, which would make more accessible to the people, and hence, help treatment, diagnosis and chances of stroke, researchers said.

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Parineeti ‘still learning’ to play badminton

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Actress Parineeti Chopra has not started shooting for ‘Saina’ yet and says she is still learning how to play badminton.

Parineeti on Thursday said that the shooting for the biopic will commence in October.

“Hi everyone, we have not started the shoot of ‘Saina’ yet. I am still learning how to play Badminton! We will start in October once I get better at it! Four months to go,” she tweeted.

 

Parineeti had replaced actress Shraddha Kapoor in the Saina Nehwal biopic, which is being directed by Amole Gupte.

She will next be seen in ‘Jabariya Jodi’ along with actor Sidharth Malhotra. The film is scheduled for release on August 2. Directed by Prashant Singh, ‘Jabariya Jodi’ is based on ‘Pakadwa Vivah’ (forced marriage), which was once rampant in Bihar.

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