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

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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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Canon EOS RP Budget Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera Launched, Fujifilm Announces X-T30 APS-C Camera

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Canon and Fujifilm have added new cameras to its respective lineups. Canon has officially unveiled the EOS RP, which is its second full-frame mirrorless camera after the EOS R. This budget model will go on sale in March for $1,300 (roughly Rs. 92,400) for just the body or $2,399 (roughly Rs. 1,70,600) with the RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM lens.

Meanwhile, Fujifilm has announced a new APS-C camera called the X-T30, which succeeds the X-T20. This will be available in March in black and silver trims at a price of $899 (roughly Rs. 63,900) for the body, $999 (roughly Rs. 71,000) with XC15-45mm lens, and $1,299 (roughly Rs. 92,400) with the XF18-55mm lens. The camera and kit lenses will also be available in a new charcoal silver colour, which will arrive in June 2019.

Canon EOS RP specifications and features

 

It seems as if the leak we got a week ago about Canon’s EOS RP was pretty much spot on. According to Canon, the EOS RP is designed for amateur and advanced amateur photographers looking to step up from its APS-C models and will sit below its flagship EOS R full-frame mirrorless camera. Canon is emphasising the lightness of the camera, which weighs 490 grams and the body is said to be smaller than Canon’s EOS 800D mid-range APS-C camera. The EOS RP will be compatible with all of Canon’s RF lenses as well as EF and EF-S lenses with the help of adapters.

The EOS RP boasts of a 26.2-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and is powered by the company’s DIGIC 8 image processor. The camera also has Dual Pixel autofocus (AF) with 4,779 manually selectable AF points. Using an f/1.2 lens, it is also capable of extreme low-light focusing at up to -5EV. Since its designed for amateurs, the EOS RP also features Canon’s Visual Guide mode, which gives you a graphical representation of how the various shooting modes (Shutter, Aperture, etc) will affect your final picture. This was first introduced with the Canon EOS 77D .

The camera also has a native ISO range of 100-25,600, a 2.36 million dot electronic viewfinder (EVF), a fully articulating touchscreen, burst shooting of up to 5fps, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, 4K video recording at 24fps, and 1080p recording at 60fps. Canon has also officially announced that it’s currently developing six new lenses for its RF full-frame mount. These will be available sometime later in 2019 and will include:

RF 85mm F1.2 L USM RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM

Fujifilm X-T30 specifications and features

Switching companies, we now come to Fujifilm’s announcement, which has added the X-T30 to its APS-C camera lineup. The follow-up to the X-T20 features an improved 26.1-megapixel APS-C sensor with the X-Processor 4 quad-core CPU for image processing. Other features include a hybrid AF system with 425 phase detection autofocus (PDAF) points, which cover 100 percent of the entire frame, EyeAF, and a new Face Selection option. Further, you will get a 2.36 million dot resolution OLED EVF, a 3-inch tilting touchscreen display, 4K recording up to 30fps or 1080p recoding up to 120fps, a single SD card slot, and built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Fujifilm also announced a new lens for its X series cameras called the FUJINON XF16mmF2.8 R WR. This lens features a stepping motor for quieter AF and goes on sale in March for $400 (roughly Rs. 28,400). There’s good news for Fujifilm X-T3 owners as come April, Fujifilm will be releasing a new firmware (v3.0), which is said bring improvements to face and eye detection AF, a new Face Select function that debuted with the X-T30, improved AF speed, and additional settings to the cameras interface. The company will also release a new firmware for the X-T100 and X-A5, which adds a new ‘Bright Mode’, ‘Portrait Enhancer’ mode, and a new ‘Night+’ setting.

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Mi 9 to Sport a Triple Rear Camera, Explorer Edition May Have Quad Camera

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Xiaomi is set to launch its latest flagship smartphone, the Mi 9, on February 20 in China. With its launch in the build-up to Mobile World Congress 2019, the Chinese smartphone maker will be among the first manufacturers to unveil its flagship for the year, even as other manufacturers will be preparing for summer launches. Thanks to some official images posted on Weibo, we now have an early look at the new device, while the images also give away some key features of the new phone. Separately, a blogger has posted a leaked image of what is claimed to be the Xiaomi Mi 9 Explorer Edition.

A handful of images and a short video have been posted to Chinese social media website Weibo by the verified account of Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun, thereby lending legitimacy to the renders. The images give us a good look at what to expect from the new phone; of particular note is the triple camera setup at the rear. The front of the phone isn’t shown in the renders, and the rear shows an interesting gradient blue and green colour, with the rough translation from the post reading as ‘holographic illusion blue’. The post further describes a “nano-scale laser holography process, plus double layer coating” as responsible for the “rainbow colours” and “faintly […] metallic lustre”.

The Xiaomi Mi 9 is set to be launched on February 20, which is the same day as the launch event for the Samsung Galaxy S10 series. According to rumours, the Mi 9 Explorer Edition could also be launched on the same day. This variant of the phone is said to sport a quad-camera setup at the rear. An unofficial render of this has surfaced as well, but we’ll wait till the official launch before confirming this.

 

The phone is likely to be powered by the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset, and is also rumoured to come with 27W fast charging. The Xiaomi Mi 9 could come with MIUI 10 out of the box, based on Android 9 Pie. The primary camera at the rear is likely to be a 48-megapixel shooter, while a second 12-megapixel camera and third ToF 3D sensor will also be part of the setup.

Coming to the Xiaomi Mi 9 Explorer Edition’s leaked image, posted on Weibo by a blogger, we see a quad rear camera, and a ‘transparent’ back panel like its predecessor. The post adds that the smartphone will have more memory than the Xiaomi Mi 9, though it’s uncertain if both RAM and storage are being referred to. The Mi 9 Explorer Edition price is said to range between CNY 3,499 (roughly Rs. 36,900) to CNY 4,999 (roughly Rs. 52,600).

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Energizer Power Max P18K Pop With 18,000mAh Battery, Dual Pop-Up Selfie Cameras to Launch at MWC 2019

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Avenir Telecom, the licensing partner of Energizer Mobile, is set to launch as many as 26 new phones at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019. One of these upcoming smartphones is the Power Max P18K Pop, the company on Thursday revealed. The smartphone will feature a huge 18,000mAh battery, dual-selfie pop-up cameras, triple rear cameras, and will be powered by the MediaTek Helio P70 processor. Avenir will officially unveil the phone at MWC 2019. The company says that it will take orders at the show for delivery sometime in summer this year.
The Energizer Power Max P18K Pop will be introduced at MWC 2019, and the company has announced that the smartphone will sport a 6.2-inch Full HD+ display. It will be powered by the MediaTek Helio P70 SoC and pack 6GB of RAM with 128GB of internal storage.
Among other specifications, the smartphone will sport five cameras in total, with dual front sensors that will pop-up from the top. The two front cameras will sport 16-megapixel and 2-megapixel senses. There’s also a triple camera setup at the back aligned vertically with 12-megapixel, 5-megapixel, and 2-megapixel sensors.
The most interesting bit about the phone is its whopping 18,000mAh battery. The company claims that this massive battery will enable the phone to make up to 90 hours of calls, listen to 100 hours of music and watch around 2 days of video on a single charge. In the standby mode, the battery is said to last up to 50 days.
In its ‘Ultimate series, the company is also expected to launch the Energizer Ultimate U620S Pop and the Energizer Ultimate U630S Pop at MWC 2019. Both phones feature dual pop-up selfie cameras. The company will also unveil the Energizer Ultimate U650S, Energizer Ultimate U620S, and the Energizer Ultimate U570S, with all three featuring a teardrop notch with a V-shaped and U-shaped design.

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