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!

HPE Announces New HPC Factory in Czech Republic

May 18, 2022

A week ahead of ISC High Performance 2022 (set to be held in Hamburg, Germany), supercomputing heavyweight HPE has announced a major investment in sovereign European computing: its first European factory, housed in the C Read more…

Hyperion Study Tracks Rise and Impact of Linux Supercomputers

May 17, 2022

That supercomputers produce impactful, lasting value is a basic tenet among the HPC community. To make the point more formally, Hyperion Research has issued a new report, The Economic and Societal Benefits of Linux Super Read more…

ECP Director Doug Kothe Named ORNL Associate Laboratory Director

May 16, 2022

The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has selected Doug Kothe to be the next Associate Laboratory Director for its Computing and Computational Sciences Directorate (CCSD), HPCwire has learned. K Read more…

Google Cloud’s New TPU v4 ML Hub Packs 9 Exaflops of AI

May 16, 2022

Almost exactly a year ago, Google launched its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) v4 chips at Google I/O 2021, promising twice the performance compared to the TPU v3. At the time, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that Google’s datacenters would “soon have dozens of TPU v4 Pods, many of which will be... Read more…

Q&A with Candace Culhane, SC22 General Chair and an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2022

May 14, 2022

HPCwire is pleased to present our interview with SC22 General Chair Candace Culhane, program/project director at Los Alamos National Lab and an HPCwire 2022 Person to Watch. In this exclusive Q&A, Culhane covers her Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

shutterstock 1103121086

Encoding workflow dependencies in AWS Batch

Most users of HPC or Batch systems need to analyze data with multiple operations to get meaningful results. That’s really driven by the nature of scientific research or engineering processes – it’s rare that a single task generates the insight you need. Read more…

Argonne Supercomputer Advances Energy Storage Research

May 13, 2022

The lack of large-scale energy storage bottlenecks many sources of renewable energy, such as sunlight-reliant solar power and unpredictable wind power. Researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) are w Read more…

HPE Announces New HPC Factory in Czech Republic

May 18, 2022

A week ahead of ISC High Performance 2022 (set to be held in Hamburg, Germany), supercomputing heavyweight HPE has announced a major investment in sovereign Eur Read more…

Google Cloud’s New TPU v4 ML Hub Packs 9 Exaflops of AI

May 16, 2022

Almost exactly a year ago, Google launched its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) v4 chips at Google I/O 2021, promising twice the performance compared to the TPU v3. At the time, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that Google’s datacenters would “soon have dozens of TPU v4 Pods, many of which will be... Read more…

Q&A with Candace Culhane, SC22 General Chair and an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2022

May 14, 2022

HPCwire is pleased to present our interview with SC22 General Chair Candace Culhane, program/project director at Los Alamos National Lab and an HPCwire 2022 Per Read more…

Supercomputing an Image of Our Galaxy’s Supermassive Black Hole

May 13, 2022

A supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A* (yes, the asterisk is part of it!) sits at the center of the Milky Way. Now, for the first time, we can see it. Read more…

Royalty-free stock illustration ID: 1919750255

Intel Says UCIe to Outpace PCIe in Speed Race

May 11, 2022

Intel has shared more details on a new interconnect that is the foundation of the company’s long-term plan for x86, Arm and RISC-V architectures to co-exist in a single chip package. The semiconductor company is taking a modular approach to chip design with the option for customers to cram computing blocks such as CPUs, GPUs and AI accelerators inside a single chip package. Read more…

Intel Extends IPU Roadmap Through 2026

May 10, 2022

Intel is extending its roadmap for infrastructure processors through 2026, the company said at its Vision conference being held in Grapevine, Texas. The company's IPUs (infrastructure processing units) are megachips that are designed to improve datacenter efficiency by offloading functions such as networking control, storage management and security that were traditionally... Read more…

Exascale Watch: Aurora Installation Underway, Now Open for Reservations

May 10, 2022

Installation has begun on the Aurora supercomputer, Rick Stevens (associate director of Argonne National Laboratory) revealed today during the Intel Vision event keynote taking place in Dallas, Texas, and online. Joining Intel exec Raja Koduri on stage, Stevens confirmed that the Aurora build is underway – a major development for a system that is projected to deliver more... Read more…

Intel’s Habana Labs Unveils Gaudi2, Greco AI Processors

May 10, 2022

At the hybrid Intel Vision event today, Intel’s Habana Labs team launched two major new products: Gaudi2, the second generation of the Gaudi deep learning training processor; and Greco, the successor to the Goya deep learning inference processor. Intel says that the processors offer significant speedups relative to their predecessors and the... Read more…

Nvidia R&D Chief on How AI is Improving Chip Design

April 18, 2022

Getting a glimpse into Nvidia’s R&D has become a regular feature of the spring GTC conference with Bill Dally, chief scientist and senior vice president of research, providing an overview of Nvidia’s R&D organization and a few details on current priorities. This year, Dally focused mostly on AI tools that Nvidia is both developing and using in-house to improve... Read more…

Royalty-free stock illustration ID: 1919750255

Intel Says UCIe to Outpace PCIe in Speed Race

May 11, 2022

Intel has shared more details on a new interconnect that is the foundation of the company’s long-term plan for x86, Arm and RISC-V architectures to co-exist in a single chip package. The semiconductor company is taking a modular approach to chip design with the option for customers to cram computing blocks such as CPUs, GPUs and AI accelerators inside a single chip package. Read more…

Facebook Parent Meta’s New AI Supercomputer Will Be ‘World’s Fastest’

January 24, 2022

Fresh off its rebrand last October, Meta (née Facebook) is putting muscle behind its vision of a metaversal future with a massive new AI supercomputer called the AI Research SuperCluster (RSC). Meta says that RSC will be used to help build new AI models, develop augmented reality tools, seamlessly analyze multimedia data and more. The supercomputer’s... Read more…

AMD/Xilinx Takes Aim at Nvidia with Improved VCK5000 Inferencing Card

March 8, 2022

AMD/Xilinx has released an improved version of its VCK5000 AI inferencing card along with a series of competitive benchmarks aimed directly at Nvidia’s GPU line. AMD says the new VCK5000 has 3x better performance than earlier versions and delivers 2x TCO over Nvidia T4. AMD also showed favorable benchmarks against several Nvidia GPUs, claiming its VCK5000 achieved... Read more…

In Partnership with IBM, Canada to Get Its First Universal Quantum Computer

February 3, 2022

IBM today announced it will deploy its first quantum computer in Canada, putting Canada on a short list of countries that will have access to an IBM Quantum Sys Read more…

Supercomputer Simulations Show How Paxlovid, Pfizer’s Covid Antiviral, Works

February 3, 2022

Just about a month ago, Pfizer scored its second huge win of the pandemic when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued another emergency use authorization Read more…

Nvidia Launches Hopper H100 GPU, New DGXs and Grace Superchips

March 22, 2022

The battle for datacenter dominance keeps getting hotter. Today, Nvidia kicked off its spring GTC event with new silicon, new software and a new supercomputer. Speaking from a virtual environment in the Nvidia Omniverse 3D collaboration and simulation platform, CEO Jensen Huang introduced the new Hopper GPU architecture and the H100 GPU... Read more…

PsiQuantum’s Path to 1 Million Qubits

April 21, 2022

PsiQuantum, founded in 2016 by four researchers with roots at Bristol University, Stanford University, and York University, is one of a few quantum computing startups that’s kept a moderately low PR profile. (That’s if you disregard the roughly $700 million in funding it has attracted.) The main reason is PsiQuantum has eschewed the clamorous public chase for... Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Nvidia Dominates MLPerf Inference, Qualcomm also Shines, Where’s Everybody Else?

April 6, 2022

MLCommons today released its latest MLPerf inferencing results, with another strong showing by Nvidia accelerators inside a diverse array of systems. Roughly fo Read more…

D-Wave to Go Public with SPAC Deal; Expects ~$1.6B Market Valuation

February 8, 2022

Quantum computing pioneer D-Wave today announced plans to go public via a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) mechanism. D-Wave will merge with DPCM Capital in a transaction expected to produce $340 million in cash and result in a roughly $1.6 billion initial market valuation. The deal is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2022 and the new company will be traded on the New York Stock... Read more…

Intel Announces Falcon Shores CPU-GPU Combo Architecture for 2024

February 18, 2022

Intel held its 2022 investor meeting yesterday, covering everything from the imminent Sapphire Rapids CPUs to the hotly anticipated (and delayed) Ponte Vecchio GPUs. But somewhat buried in its summary of the meeting was a new namedrop: “Falcon Shores,” described as “a new architecture that will bring x86 and Xe GPU together into a single socket.” The reveal was... Read more…

Industry Consortium Forms to Drive UCIe Chiplet Interconnect Standard

March 2, 2022

A new industry consortium aims to establish a die-to-die interconnect standard – Universal Chiplet Interconnect Express (UCIe) – in support of an open chipl Read more…

Julia Update: Adoption Keeps Climbing; Is It a Python Challenger?

January 13, 2021

The rapid adoption of Julia, the open source, high level programing language with roots at MIT, shows no sign of slowing according to data from Julialang.org. I Read more…

Nvidia Acquires Software-Defined Storage Provider Excelero

March 7, 2022

Nvidia has announced that it has acquired Excelero. The high-performance block storage provider, founded in 2014, will have its technology integrated into Nvidia’s enterprise software stack. Nvidia is not disclosing the value of the deal. Excelero’s core product, Excelero NVMesh, offers software-defined block storage via networked NVMe SSDs. NVMesh operates through... Read more…

India Launches Petascale ‘PARAM Ganga’ Supercomputer

March 8, 2022

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Indian government promised that it had five HPC systems in the final stages of installation and would launch nine new supercomputers this year. Now, it appears to be making good on that promise: the country’s National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) has announced the deployment of “PARAM Ganga” petascale supercomputer at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)... Read more…

Google Launches TPU v4 AI Chips

May 20, 2021

Google CEO Sundar Pichai spoke for only one minute and 42 seconds about the company’s latest TPU v4 Tensor Processing Units during his keynote at the Google I Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire