Fugaku – The World’s Fastest Supercomputers 2020

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Fugaku: The World | A&H Business Technology
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For the first time in nine years, Japan – Fugaku System has taken the number one place in a ranking of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

Developed by RIKEN and Fujitsu, the Fugaku system has moved IBM’s summit down to second place, which previously held the top spot on the TOP500 in 2019.

China and the United States are locked in a contest to develop the world’s most powerful computers. Now a massive machine in Japan has topped them both.

A long-awaited supercomputer called Fugaku, installed in the city of Kobe by the government-sponsored Riken institute, took first place in a twice-yearly speed ranking that was released on Monday.

The Japanese machine carried out 2.8 times more calculations a second than an IBM system at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, which Fugaku bumped to second place in the so-called Top500 list.

Another IBM system, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, slid to third place in the ranking from second, while systems in China moved to the fourth and fifth spots from third and fourth.

Supercomputers have become a symbol for both technical and economic competitiveness.

The room-size systems are used for complex military and scientific tasks, including breaking codes, modeling climate change and simulating new designs for cars, weapons, aircraft and drugs.

Riken has said Fugaku is already being used to help study, diagnose and treat Covid-19.

Japan remains a relatively small player in supercomputing. China placed 226 systems in the latest Top500 list; the U.S. total was 114, though they accounted for a greater share of aggregate computing power.

But Japan has a long history of pushing the state of the art in computing.

A prominent example is the K Supercomputer, its predecessor at Riken, which took the No. 1 spot on the Top500 list in 2011 before being displaced the next year by a system at Livermore.

Fugaku system

Fugaku, another name for Mount Fuji, required some lofty spending. The six-year budget for the system and related technology development totalled about $1 billion, compared with the $600 million price tags for the biggest planned U.S. systems.

By contrast, most supercomputers use microprocessors that evolved from the chips that Intel and Advanced Micro Devices first sold for PCs.

The most powerful machines have been accelerated using more specialized chips, such as the Nvidia graphics processors used to run video games and, more recently, artificial intelligence applications.

Arm licensees have tried for years to gain a foothold in data centers without much success. But the cloud service operated by Amazon has begun aggressively promoting Arm-based offerings.

Installed at the RIKEN centre for computational science (R – CCS) in Kobe, japan, the Fugaku system marks the successor to the K computer, which was previously crowned the world’s fastest back in 2011.

As reported by TOP500, the new Fugaku scored a linpack (HPL) result of 415.5 petaflops, which is 2.8 times faster than the nearest competitor, summit, that achieved 148.6 petaflops.

Powered by Fujitsu’s 48-core A64FX SoC, Fugaku has also become the first number one supercomputer to utilize ARM processors.

Furthermore, on HPCG (high performance conjugate gradient), Fugaku reached 13,400 teraflops using 138,240 nodes, and on HPL-AI (the convergence of high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence).

The system scored 1.421 exaflops, which is the first time a computer has even earned an exascale rating on any list, using 126,720 nodes (via RIKEN).

Fugaku: The World's Fastest Computer - Boss Hunting

Set to be fully operational by April 2021, the development of Fugaku is part of a national plan to help address social and scientific issues, including finding a treatment for COVID-19. 

The new supercomputer is already being used to run simulations to research how the virus is spread.

As well as helping with the current global health pandemic, Fugaku will also be applied to areas such as natural disasters, weather and climate forecasting, drug discovery, and the development of clean energy (via RIKEN).

In addition to taking the top spot on the TOP500, Fugaku has also been crowned number one on both the HPCG and graph500, marking the first time in history a supercomputer has taken all three awards at the same time.

The results were announced yesterday on June 22, 2020, at the ISC conference.

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