Japanese supercomputer is now crowned world’s speediest

The ranking marks the first time in nine years that a Japanese supercomputer has captured the top position

Photo: Kyodo Fugaku, the supercomputer co-developed by the Riken research institute and Fujitsu Ltd.

Supercomputers have become a symbol for both technical and economic competitiveness. And while China and the United States are locked in a contest to develop the world’s most powerful one, a massive machine in Japan has topped them both by taking the top position on the TOP500 list, - a supercomputer benchmarking index.

The winning machine’s concept was initially proposed a decade ago, and six years after the official start of the project, the supercomputer is getting ready for a full launch in April 2021. The so-called Fugaku is installed in the city of Kobe by the government-sponsored Riken institute and is powered by Fujitsu’s 48-core A64FX SoC, which makes it the first number one system on the list to be powered by ARM processors.

According to media, Fugaku turned in a High Performance Linpack (HPL) result of 415.5 petaflops, carrying 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, respectively.

In addition to taking the top position on the TOP500 list for speed, Fugaku also took the top spot in three other categories that measured performance in computational methods for industrial use, artificial intelligence applications and big data analytics.

“Fugaku was developed based on the idea of achieving high performance on a variety of applications of great public interest, such as the achievement of Society 5.0, and we are very happy that it has shown itself to be outstanding on all the major supercomputer benchmarks,” Satoshi Matsuoka, director of R-CCS said in a statement.

“In addition to its use as a supercomputer, I hope that the leading-edge IT developed for it will contribute to major advances on difficult social challenges such as COVID-19,” he added.

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