India's government has revealed a home-grown server design that is unlikely to threaten the pacesetters of high tech, but (it hopes) will attract domestic buyers and manufacturers and help to kickstart the nation's hardware industry.
The "Rudra" design is a two-socket server that can run Intel's Cascade Lake Xeons. The machines are offered in 1U or 2U form factors, each at half-width. A pair of GPUs can be equipped, as can DDR4 RAM.
Cascade Lake emerged in 2019 and has since been superseded by the Ice Lake architecture launched in April 2021. Indian authorities know Rudra is off the pace, and said a new design capable of supporting four GPUs is already in the works with a reveal planned for June 2022.
The National Supercomputing Mission designed the servers and certified them to run the Trinetra HPC interconnect it has previously developed. The Mission is currently talking to manufacturers as it wants to put 5,000 locally-built Rudra machines into production.
Server-builders are not hard to find and plenty operate at scale. Just what Rudra offers that India can't source elsewhere is not clear. But the debut of the Rudra design was more about politics than tech: In October 2020 India announced plans to foster home-grown supercomputers that feature Indian tech. Rudra shows that mission is on track – but also far from being able to offer the full stack contemplated at the 2020 launch.
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Rajeev Chandrasekhar, minister of state for electronics and information technology & skill development and entrepreneurship, did reveal that some progress towards India's pursuit of its own microprocessors has also progressed. India currently developers two modestly-specced RISC-V CPUs – named Shakti and Vega – and hopes they will one day meet the nation's needs and be used around the world. With the Shakti E-Class built on a 180nm process and running at between 75Mhz and 100MHz, India is not yet a threat to incumbent market leaders. Chandrasekhar announced that a national competition to improve local CPU tech has been narrowed to ten finalists.
The minister also announced a National Blockchain Strategy [PDF] that calls for the establishment of a national blockchain platform that offers a sandbox developers can use to test applications that could benefit from the distributed ledger tech.
The Strategy calls for the government to offer Blockchain-as-a-service to government within two years, and for wide use of Blockchain and its integration with clouds and the internet of things at the end of a five-year initial development phase. The tech is seen as being most applicable to e-government services, but also to have potential to secure intellectual property and improve transactions across India's economy. ®