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Ashutosh Sheshabalaya On Indian Issues
India'S Cutting Edge Computers
by Ashutosh Sheshabalaya

Published in January 4, 1999 issue of The Washington Post.
In 'Helping Others Build the Bomb' (December 14), Gary Milhollin errs in merging three separate products into the generic term 'supercomputer'. While US controls on India may in theory work for the processor chips in a supercomputer, they would be useless in inhibiting development of another kind of chip for communications and, above all, for the massively parallel software which permits everything to work together.

India is acknowledged to be a world leader in the field of massively parallel software, certainly ahead of Europe, Russia and Japan. Russia's Institute for Computer Aided Design, for example, has recently installed PARAM, an Indian supercomputer based on this kind of software and using Indian-designed communications chips. Indeed, India's capability in such fields is what brought companies like IBM and DEC to the country to begin with.

The only US-made ingredient in the PARAM is Sun Microsystems' widely-available 160 UltraSPARC II processor. In reality, even this component of the PARAM could be considered Indian. An Indian engineer, Anant Agrawal, developed the SPARC microprocessor for Sun Microsystems while working in the US on a temporary H-1B visa.

Aside from the contribution of Mr. Agarwal (or that of another Indian, Vinod Dham, who is known as the 'Father of the Pentium'), it may also be counterproductive for the US to restrict chip sales to a country like India for another reason. US companies such as Texas Instruments, Hughes, Motorola and Cypress have huge design facilities in the country. In fact, TI's latest DSP chip bears the Hindi name, Ankoor.

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