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Japan’s ‘K computer’ petaflops its way to the top
By Alice Vincent20 June 11
Japan’s slipped back into the fast lane — in the world of supercomputing, that is, after its “K computer” sped into the top spot of the TOP500 list at the International Supercomputing Conference.
The prizewinning machine is, unsurprisingly, a bit of a beast. Comprised of 672 computer racks equipped with a current total of 68, 544 CPUS it churns out a performance of 8.162 petaflops (quadrillion floating-point operations, or calculations, per second). This is the world’s best LINPACK benchmark performance (the means used to assess computer speed) — and the “K computer” is only half-built.
“K computer” is the product of a joint effort from RIKEN and Fujitsu, who aim to begin sharing its super-speedy abilities by November 2012 to help with “global climate research, meteorology, disaster prevention and medicine.” It’s just as well the areas where the machine is meant to have “groundbreaking impact”, as the energy “K computer” takes to run would also fuel 10,000 homes, costing a cool $10 million per year. That’s from a machine with an “extraordinarily high computing efficiency ratio of 93 percent”.
When it nears its completion date, “K computer” will be operating at 10 petaflops — reflecting the intentions behind its name: “Kei” meaning 10 quadrillions — and beating rival China, whose supercomputer proved faster in October 2010. Representatives from RIKEN and Fujitsu were understandably “delighted” with K computer’s achievement, not least because it succeeded despite the devastation caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake earlier this year.