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    Met department looks for faster supercomputers

    New Delhi: Predicting the weather means calculating a thousand different possibilities. India has supercomputers to do that. But now, it wants one that is four times faster.

    Minister of State of Science and Technology Ashwani Kumar said, "We want to ratchet up our computing capacity from 70 terraflops to 300 terraflops."

    That is ten thousand times faster than your desktop Personal Computers. One teraflop means a trillion instructions solved every second. In the eighties, the Meteorological Department struggled to get its first supercomputer from the US. The Americans believed it could be misused by the military.

    "There used to be an argument that if India gets these supercomputers, we would be able to monitor ocean currents and even submarine movements of other countries. We had to fight that prejudice," said Kumar.

    Last year, President Obama announced an Indo-US venture to predict the monsoons better. America is to give India access to its Climate Forecast System, which takes constant inputs from a fleet of satellites and radars and creates accurate computer simulations.

    Ministry of Earth Sciences Secretary Shailesh Nayak said, "If you are giving say six weather updates a day, then you have to get each update ready in a matter of four hours. To process such a large amount of data from satellites, radars etc efficiently, you will need a supercomputer."

    An imported supercomputer could cost Rs 400 crore. EKA, India's fastest machine yet, clocks about one hundred teraflops. Wipro is building one at least twice as fast, for ISRO.