Japanese Supercomputer Is New TOP500 Champ

By Michael Feldman

June 20, 2011

A Japanese supercomputer took the world title for the fastest computer in the world after the latest TOP500 list was announced Monday morning at the International Supercomputing Conference in Hamburg, Germany. Fujitsu’s K Computer, powered by the latest SPARC64 VIIIfx CPUs and the “Tofu” interconnect, delivered a world beating 8.162 petaflops on the Linpack benchmark, vaulting over the now second-place 2.57 petaflop Tianhe-1A supercomputer in China and third-place 1.76 petaflop Jaguar supercomputer in the US.

The last Japanese supercomputer that topped the TOP500 list was the Earth Simulator, which held the number one spot from 2002 to 2004. That system, by the way, delivered 35 teraflops, which doesn’t even rate a place on the current list.
 
As of today, the current top 10 supers are:

  1. 8.16 petaflops, K computer, Japan
  2. 2.57 petaflops, Tianhe-1A, China
  3. 1.76 petaflops, Jaguar, United States
  4. 1.27 petaflops, Nebulae, China
  5. 1.19 petaflops, TSUBAME 2.0, Japan
  6. 1.11 petaflops, Cielo, United States
  7. 1.08 petaflops, Pleiades, United States
  8. 1.05 petaflops, Hopper, United States
  9. 1.05 petaflops, Tera-100, France
  10. 1.04 petaflops, Roadrunner, United States

That’s right, all of the top 10 systems are now a petaflop or more, and the first machine that cracked the petaflop mark in 2006, IBM’s Roadrunner supercomputer, has been pushed into the number 10 spot.

Unlike in years past when IBM and Cray dominated these top systems, today there’s a much greater degree of vendor parity.  Beside the two aforementioned supercomputer makers, Fujitsu, HP, NEC, SGI, Dawning, and Bull all claim at least one of these petaflop systems. The big surprise, of course, is Fujitsu. Long absent from the top ten, the Japan-based computer maker has made a spectacular comeback with the K deployment. 

The K Computer (short for called Kei Soku Keisanki) has had a tumultuous history. The system is the result of Japan’s Next-Generation Supercomputing Project, an effort led by RIKEN, a government-backed research agency. Initially the project was a joint venture involving NEC, Hitachi, and Fujitsu, with the original design mixing NEC vector processors with Fujitsu scalar ones. In 2009, NEC and Hitachi backed out of the contract, leaving Fujitsu as the lone system vendor. Subsequently, the Japanese government considered pulling the plug on the project, but later reinstated most of the funding.

The final K system set for completion in 2012 is spec’d for 10 petaflops, so one can assume that we’ll see that upgrade over the next year. Nevertheless, even in its unfinished state, the K system is quite impressive. Not only is the machine more than three times as powerful, FLOPS-wise, as the number two GPU-powered Tianhe-1A, but it is even more energy efficient, delivering over 8 Linpack petaflops with less than 10 megawatts of power. That’s almost as energy-efficient as the other power-sipping Japanese petaflop supercomputer, the GPU-accelerated TSUBAME 2.0 machine.

The exceptional energy efficiency of K is provided courtesy of the 8-core SPARC64 VIIIfx processor, a 58 watt chip that delivers 128 peak gigaflops. That’s nearly up to the standards of an HPC-style GPU, a processor which basically does nothing but FLOPS. For comparison, an IBM Power7 CPU provides about 256 gigaflops, but consumes 200 watts, while IBM’s other HPC chip, the PowerPC A2 SoC used in Blue Gene/Q looks to be around twice as energy-efficient as the current crop of GPUs.

In any case, don’t expect SPARC64 VIIIfx systems to start populating the TOP500 list (or any list) in force. This is a specialty chip, even more so now, thanks to Oracle’s abandonment of Sun Microsystems’ supercomputing business. It does, however, demonstrate that purpose-built CPUs can deliver performance-per-watt efficiencies on par with GPUs for high performance computing.

Also, don’t expect the K Computer to stake out the number one spot for very long. It will almost certainly not enjoy the two-year reign the Earth Simulator did in 2002. NCSA’s Power7-based Blue Waters system is slated to hit the 10-petaflop mark when it’s installed later 2011 and Lawrence Livermore National Lab’s Blue Gene/Q Sequoia supercomputer is aiming for 20 petaflops when fully deployed in 2012.  Also on the drawing board is the GPU-accelerated OLCF-3 system at Oak Ridge National Lab, which is expected to deliver between 10 to 20 petaflops. And China certainly has plans to build systems in the 10-petaflop range and beyond.

Speaking of which, even though China’s top super got out-Linpacked this time around, the country continues to fill up TOP500 slots at a breakneck pace. The nation now has 62 supercomputers on the list, up from just 24 a year ago. As a result, China has more top machines than Germany and the UK combined, and greater than any nation except for the US. Despite that, the US still owns more than half the total systems (256) on the list. But depending upon what Asia and Europe deploy over the next six months, the number of US-based supercomputers on the TOP500 could conceivably slide below the 50 percent mark by the time the next TOP500 list comes out in November.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Scalable Informatics Ceases Operations

March 23, 2017

On the same day we reported on the uncertain future for HPC compiler company PathScale, we are sad to learn that another HPC vendor, Scalable Informatics, is closing its doors. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

‘Strategies in Biomedical Data Science’ Advances IT-Research Synergies

March 23, 2017

“Strategies in Biomedical Data Science: Driving Force for Innovation” by Jay A. Etchings is both an introductory text and a field guide for anyone working with biomedical data. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its assets. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Launches New Machine Learning Journal

March 22, 2017

On Monday, Google announced plans to launch a new peer review journal and “ecosystem” Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HFT Firms Turn to Co-Location to Gain Competitive Advantage

High-frequency trading (HFT) is a high-speed, high-stakes world where every millisecond matters. Finding ways to execute trades faster than the competition translates directly to greater revenue for firms, brokerages, and exchanges. Read more…

Swiss Researchers Peer Inside Chips with Improved X-Ray Imaging

March 22, 2017

Peering inside semiconductor chips using x-ray imaging isn’t new, but the technique hasn’t been especially good or easy to accomplish. Read more…

By John Russell

LANL Simulation Shows Massive Black Holes Break ‘Speed Limit’

March 21, 2017

A new computer simulation based on codes developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is shedding light on how supermassive black holes could have formed in the early universe contrary to most prior models which impose a limit on how fast these massive ‘objects’ can form. Read more…

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Ships Drives Based on 3D XPoint Non-volatile Memory

March 20, 2017

Intel Corp. has begun shipping new storage drives based on its 3D XPoint non-volatile memory technology as it targets data-driven workloads. Intel’s new Optane solid-state drives, designated P4800X, seek to combine the attributes of memory and storage in the same device. Read more…

By George Leopold

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its assets. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Read more…

By John Russell

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the campaign. Read more…

By John Russell

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

Joint DOE-NSA report responds to the increased global pressures impacting the competitiveness of U.S. supercomputing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

New Japanese Supercomputing Project Targets Exascale

March 14, 2017

Another Japanese supercomputing project was revealed this week, this one from emerging supercomputer maker, ExaScaler Inc., and Keio University. The partners are working on an original supercomputer design with exascale aspirations. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Debuts HGX-1 for Cloud; Announces Fujitsu AI Deal

March 9, 2017

On Monday Nvidia announced a major deal with Fujitsu to help build an AI supercomputer for RIKEN using 24 DGX-1 servers. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC4Mfg Advances State-of-the-Art for American Manufacturing

March 9, 2017

Last Friday (March 3, 2017), the High Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) program held an industry engagement day workshop in San Diego, bringing together members of the US manufacturing community, national laboratories and universities to discuss the role of high-performance computing as an innovation engine for American manufacturing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

For IBM/OpenPOWER: Success in 2017 = (Volume) Sales

January 11, 2017

To a large degree IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation have done what they said they would – assembling a substantial and growing ecosystem and bringing Power-based products to market, all in about three years. Read more…

By John Russell

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a new board design for NVLink-equipped Pascal P100 GPUs that will create another entrant to the space currently occupied by Nvidia's DGX-1 system, IBM's "Minsky" platform and the Supermicro SuperServer (1028GQ-TXR). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which will be Japan’s “fastest AI supercomputer,” Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

January 26, 2017

IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular offerings such as Caffe, Theano, and Torch. Read more…

By John Russell

Lighting up Aurora: Behind the Scenes at the Creation of the DOE’s Upcoming 200 Petaflops Supercomputer

December 1, 2016

In April 2015, U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Franklin Orr announced that Intel would be the prime contractor for Aurora: Read more…

By Jan Rowell

Is Liquid Cooling Ready to Go Mainstream?

February 13, 2017

Lost in the frenzy of SC16 was a substantial rise in the number of vendors showing server oriented liquid cooling technologies. Three decades ago liquid cooling was pretty much the exclusive realm of the Cray-2 and IBM mainframe class products. That’s changing. We are now seeing an emergence of x86 class server products with exotic plumbing technology ranging from Direct-to-Chip to servers and storage completely immersed in a dielectric fluid. Read more…

By Steve Campbell

Enlisting Deep Learning in the War on Cancer

December 7, 2016

Sometime in Q2 2017 the first ‘results’ of the Joint Design of Advanced Computing Solutions for Cancer (JDACS4C) will become publicly available according to Rick Stevens. He leads one of three JDACS4C pilot projects pressing deep learning (DL) into service in the War on Cancer. Read more…

By John Russell

BioTeam’s Berman Charts 2017 HPC Trends in Life Sciences

January 4, 2017

Twenty years ago high performance computing was nearly absent from life sciences. Today it’s used throughout life sciences and biomedical research. Genomics and the data deluge from modern lab instruments are the main drivers, but so is the longer-term desire to perform predictive simulation in support of Precision Medicine (PM). There’s even a specialized life sciences supercomputer, ‘Anton’ from D.E. Shaw Research, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is standing up its second Anton 2 and actively soliciting project proposals. There’s a lot going on. Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

HPC Startup Advances Auto-Parallelization’s Promise

January 23, 2017

The shift from single core to multicore hardware has made finding parallelism in codes more important than ever, but that hasn’t made the task of parallel programming any easier. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu’s Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural network training and now they are sharing their implementation with the larger deep learning community. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU Benchmarking: Haswell Versus POWER8

June 2, 2015

With OpenPOWER activity ramping up and IBM’s prominent role in the upcoming DOE machines Summit and Sierra, it’s a good time to look at how the IBM POWER CPU stacks up against the x86 Xeon Haswell CPU from Intel. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the campaign. Read more…

By John Russell

IDG to Be Bought by Chinese Investors; IDC to Spin Out HPC Group

January 19, 2017

US-based publishing and investment firm International Data Group, Inc. (IDG) will be acquired by a pair of Chinese investors, China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

Joint DOE-NSA report responds to the increased global pressures impacting the competitiveness of U.S. supercomputing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Read more…

By John Russell

Intel and Trump Announce $7B for Fab 42 Targeting 7nm

February 8, 2017

In what may be an attempt by President Trump to reset his turbulent relationship with the high tech industry, he and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich today announced plans to invest more than $7 billion to complete Fab 42. Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This