ISRO SAGA 220: India’s Fastest Supercomputer

On May 2, 2011 Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) gave India SAGA-220, its fastest supercomputer for aerospace with graphics processing unit architecture and a peak performance speed of 220 tn floating point operations per second (teraflops). Over 6 months, with an investment of `14 crore, the mega machine has been designed and built by a team of 15 researchers at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The SAGA-220 uses Mellanoxs InfiniBand network, nVIDIAs graphics processing units, and Intels central processing unitsall supplied by Wipro. The supercomputer is loaded with open source software and ISROs own innovative complex aerospace application for the design and analysis of aerospace vehicle configurations.

With peak performance of 220 teraflops, the SAGA-220 leaves behind Eka of Tata Sons Computational Research Laboratories, Pune, which has peak performance of 172.60 teraflops. Before SAGA-220, Eka was Indias fastest supercomputer. However, the SAGA-220 is way behind the worlds fastest supercomputer, Tianjin, at National Supercomputing Center, China, which is 20 times faster with a peak performance of 4,701 teraflops. Nevertheless the small team of ISRO scientists have taken the countrys supercomputing to the next level with SAGA-220 and they expect it to figure among top 45 supercomputers in the world.


Based on the cluster design, the SAGA-220 is environment-friendly by design and operation with automated power on-and-off of computing resources (nodes) by the job scheduler. The new supercomputer uses 436 nVIDIA Tesla C2070 graphics processing units and 436 Intel quad-core Xeon E5530 central processing units, each of which processes 8 computational threads at a time at the frequency of 2.4 GHz. At present the SAGA-220 has an in-built memory of 4.5 Tb and a bandwidth of 40 Gbps.

The new supercomputer is supported by 8 Xeon based 4 unit servers, 15 front-end systems, 7 InfiniBand QDR switches, 12 gigabit Ethernet switches, two 200 kilovolts ampere UPS systems, 28 instrumentation racks of 42 units each, three 23 tons air conditioners, and a set of fire alarm system.

Inside Out

The SAGA-220 is housed at the Satish Dhawan Supercomputing facility in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. Spread across 66 sq m, the facility was inaugurated by K Radhakrishnan, chairman, ISRO.

ISRO has designed the new supercomputer based on the cluster as a single system which treats the computing nodes as resources. The single brain design with 64-bit Tiny Linux operating system for the computing nodes and 64-bit Linux based OS for servers make it easy to maintain the system and to scale it up. The SAGA-220 uses 150 KW power. The systems cluster manager, job scheduler, and other tools have been developed in-house for automatic management and utilization of power and other resources.

Over 100 engineers can work simultaneously on SAGA-220 at any time. However at present the system is accessed by 60 researchers at the Satish Dhawan facility. The new supercomputer will be used by ISRO for advanced computational fluid dynamic studies associated with building complex launch vehicles. It will help in reducing the design time as well as the computational cost to 1/15th of the equivalent CPU based system available in India.

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