PR: Japanese ‘K’ Computer Is Ranked Most Powerful

Category: CPU | Posted on June 20, 2011

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The computer, known as “K Computer,” is three times faster than a Chinese rival that previously held the top position, said Jack Dongarra, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville who keeps the official rankings of computer performance.

K, built by and located at the in Kobe, , represents a giant leap forward in . It will also undoubtedly be a source of national pride for Japan, at least among computer scientists, who take the race for fastest computer quite seriously.

“It’s a very impressive machine,” Mr. Dongarra said. “It’s a lot more powerful than the other computers.”

The latest of the top 500 computers, to be released Monday, is determined by running a standard mathematical equation. The winning computer was able to make 8.2 quadrillion calculations per second, or in more technical terms, 8.2 petaflops per second.

The performance of K is equivalent to linking around one million desktop computers, Mr. Dongarra said.

Supercomputers are used for earthquake simulations, climate modeling, nuclear research and weapons development and testing, among other things. Businesses also use the machines for oil exploration and rapid stock trading.

Building supercomputers is costly and involves connecting thousands of small computers in a data center. K is made up of 672 cabinets filled with system boards. Although considered energy-efficient, it still uses enough electricity to power nearly 10,000 homes at a cost of around $10 million annually, Mr. Dongarra said.

The research lab that houses K plans to increase the computer’s size to 800 cabinets. That will raise its speed, which already exceeds that of its five closest competitors combined, Mr. Dongarra said.

“K” is short to the Japanese word “Kei,” which means 10 quadrillion, the ultimate goal for the number of calculations the computer can perform per second.

K succeeded in pushing the previous leader, China’s Tianhe-1A supercomputer, at the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin, China, to second place. Tianhe-1A had been the first Chinese computer to be ranked on top, signaling the country’s growing technological might.

The fastest computer in the United States, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Oak Ridge, Tenn., placed third.

Asian countries have made huge investments in supercomputing and now dominate the upper echelon of the field. Japan and China hold four of the top five spots in the latest ranking.

However, in terms of the top 10, the United States remains the leader with five computers. They are at government research facilities.

Japan’s top supercomputer ranking is its first since 2004. The United States and China are the only other countries to have held the title.

The rankings, which are issued every six months, change frequently and reflect how fast computer power is advancing. For example, the top ranked computer in June 2008, at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, is now in 10th place.

Mr. Dongarra said a computer called Blue Waters, being developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, may rival K in speed.

Supercomputer “K computer” Takes First Place in World
Achieves world’s best performance of 8.162 petaflops to lead TOP500

Tokyo, June 20, 2011 – RIKEN and Fujitsu have taken first place on the 37th TOP500 list announced today at the 26th International Supercomputing Conference (ISC’11) held in Hamburg, Germany. This ranking is based on a performance measurement of the “K computer(1),” currently under their joint development.

The TOP500-ranked K computer system, currently in the configuration stage, has 672 computer racks equipped with a current total of 68,544 CPUs. This half-build system achieved the world’s best LINPACK(2) benchmark performance of 8.162 petaflops (quadrillion floating-point operations per second), to place it at the head of the TOP500 list. In addition, the system has recorded high standards with a computing efficiency ratio of 93.0%. This is the first time since June 2004 that the Japanese supercomputer “Earth Simulator” has been ranked first on the TOP500 list.

1. Background

RIKEN and Fujitsu have been working together to develop the K computer, with the aim of beginning shared use by November 2012, as a part of the High-Performance Computing Infrastructure (HPCI) initiative led by Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The K computer will be comprised of over 800 computer racks-each equipped with ultrafast and energy-efficient CPUs-that access into a network capable of an immense amount of interconnectivity. The supercomputer system brings together leading-edge technologies for high performance and high reliability.

To test the system’s performance at the configuration stage, the K computer’s speed was measured by the LINPACK benchmark program, placing it on the 37th TOP500 ranking of the world’s fastest supercomputers. The TOP500 ranking list began in 1993 and is updated twice a year in June and November.

2. Performance and Future Status of the K computer

The LINPACK benchmark program, running on the part of the system that employs 68,544 CPUs installed on the K computer being configured, recorded the world’s top performance of 8.162 petaflops. This gave it the number-one position on the TOP500 list. Moreover, for one of the world’s largest supercomputers, it achieved an extraordinarily high computing efficiency ratio of 93.0%. This achievement is made possible by the K computer’s integration of technologies, including its massive number of CPUs, the interconnectivity that links them together, and the software that is able to bring out the highest performance from the hardware.

When configuration of the K computer is complete in 2012, it is designed to achieve LINPACK performance of 10 petaflops. It will be widely used in a variety of computational science fields where it is expected to contribute to the generation of world-class research results. The K computer is a wholly made-in-Japan supercomputer, from the research and development of the processors, to system design and manufacturing. Use of the K computer is expected to have a groundbreaking impact in fields ranging from global climate research, meteorology, disaster prevention, and medicine, thereby contributing to the creation of a prosperous and secure society. RIKEN and Fujitsu will continue to work tirelessly toward completing the system’s deployment in 2012.

3. RIKEN and Fujitsu Comments

Ryoji Noyori, President, RIKEN

I would like to express my deep gratitude to everyone, beginning with our colleagues at our development partner Fujitsu Limited, who worked so valiantly on the construction of the K computer even under the severe conditions following the Great East Japan Earthquake. It is wonderful to be able to share the joy of this moment with them. I very much believe that the strength and perseverance that was demonstrated during this project will also make possible the recovery of the devastated Tohoku region. As we move forward to complete this project by next June, we will maintain our firm commitment to the maintenance and operation of the system, and I hope to see wonderful results when we begin to make the world’s top performing supercomputer available to users around the world.

Michiyoshi Mazuka, Chairman and Representative Director, Fujitsu Limited

I am delighted that we were able to achieve this result, made possible through the tremendous efforts of all involved, despite the impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake. In particular, I am sincerely grateful to our partners in the Tohoku region for their commitment to delivering a steady supply of components, even though they themselves were affected by the disaster. Bringing together hundreds of thousands of components to quickly launch such a massive-scale computing system-which would have been nearly impossible using conventional technologies-requires an incredible level of reliability. I believe that this reliability is truly the pinnacle of Japanese manufacturing. Without being too pleased with ourselves and losing sight of our goal, going forward we will proceed with the system’s deployment and, once complete, we look forward to contributing to the achievements that the K computer will make possible.

original content by nytimes.com

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