Japan Looks to Retain Supercomputing Crown with 10-Petaflop K Machine

By Michael Feldman

November 3, 2011

Just three and half years after IBM broke the petaflop barrier with its Roadrunner supercomputer, Fujitsu’s “K computer” has passed the 10 petaflops mark. Fujitsu and RIKEN announced on Tuesday that they have completed the final build-out of the system and achieved 10.51 petaflops on Linpack, reaching a major milestone of Japan’s Next-Generation Supercomputing Project.

In June of this year, Fujitsu and RIKEN captured the number one spot on the TOP500 with a Linpack result of 8.16 petaflops for the partially completed K system. It marked the first time a Japanese system was number one on the list since the Earth Simulator supercomputer held the title from 2002 through 2004.
 
The completed K system, housed at RIKEN’s Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Kobe, is powered by more than  88 thousand SPARC64 VIIIfx CPUs. The 8-core SPARC64 VIIIfx chip was purpose-built for HPC, delivering 128 peak gigaflops at 2.0 GHz, while drawing a relatively modest 58 watts. Although each CPU represents a single node, four of the SPARC chips are glued to a single motherboard, 24 of which make up a rack. The whole system is comprised of 864 of these racks.

The peak petaflops for the final system is a whopping 11.28 petaflops, and thanks to the Fujitsu’s 6D Tofu interconnect, the system was able to squeeze better than 93 percent Linpack efficiency from the floating pointing parts — a rather remarkable feat. Total time for the Linpack run: 29 hours and 28 minutes.

Of course, the real value of all these flops is not Linpack. The K is destined for all sorts of big science workloads, including nanotechnology simulations, drug discovery, materials design, climate prediction, industrial design, and cosmology, among others. The multi-petaflops capabilities of the machine should enable some of these application to push the envelope of their respective domains.

Applications aside, Japanese supercomputing prestige is soaring with the K machine right now, and unless there’s a surprise Chinese system waiting in the wings to overtake the it, the system will retain its title as the most powerful computer on the planet. It looks like all other double-digit-petaflop machines in the pipeline won’t be up and running until next year.

If IBM hadn’t parted ways with NCSA over the Blue Waters Project, the K system might already have had some serious competition from the US. Blue Waters, which was also supposed to be a 10-petaflop system, in this case based on Power7 technology, was originally slated to come online toward the end of this year. Obviously, that’s not going to happen.

Another contender is the Jaguar supercomputer upgrade at Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL), which will result in a 10 to 20-petaflop system. That machine, which will be renamed “Titan,” will be outfitted with the next-generation “Kepler” GPUs from NVIDIA, but that work isn’t expected to be completed until late 2012. The first phase of the upgrade, which involves plugging 960 Fermi-class GPUs into the machine, is already in motion, and is expected to be completed this year. But it’s rather unlikely those initial enhancements will yield anything approaching 10 petaflops.

Other leading-edge petascale machines include the two big IBM Blue Gene/Q systems headed for US DOE centers: “Mira”, a 10-petaflop system destined for Argonne National Lab, and Sequoia,” a 20 petaflop machine, which will be installed at Lawrence Livermore. But both of these Blue Genes aren’t expected to be operational until 2012.

Likewise for the 10-petaflop Dell-built cluster for TACC, named “Stampede.” That machine will be relying on Intel’s Many Integrated Core (MIC) coprocessor to provide most of the flops, and since the first production MIC (“Knights Corner”) won’t be available for at least a year, that system won’t be up and running until late 2012.

Technically, the K Computer is not quite ready for prime time either. The Linpack run was part of the machine’s verification process. Over the next few months, the engineers will be developing and tuning the system software system, which should be completed by June 2012. Real production users are not expected to be able to log on until November 2012.

Beyond its 10-petaflop adventure, Fujitsu would like to start selling SPARC64 VIIIfx-based servers outside of Japan. It would certainly make sense for Fujitsu to try to cash in on its investment in the SPARC chip and K design. But as impressive as the technology is, the market has not exactly embraced custom-built HPC.

For political reasons, the US government supercomputing labs would be unlikely to import foreign HPC of any flavor. And considering the attractive price-performance of x86 HPC, smaller clusters of K would probably not have much of a market in the commercial HPC space. Fujitsu could perhaps export K-type supercomputers to Europe and perhaps elsewhere is Asia. But as we saw last week, China is interested in developing its own HPC industry, and the large European centers are more apt to stick with the supercomputer vendors they know best — mainly IBM, Cray, and Bull.

For the time being though, Fujitsu and Japan can bask in the glow of their accomplishment and enjoy their newfound position at the top of the supercomputing heap. If history is any guide, these moments tend to be rather fleeting.

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!

ExxonMobil, NCSA, Cray Scale Reservoir Simulation to 700,000+ Processors

February 17, 2017

In a scaling breakthrough for oil and gas discovery, ExxonMobil geoscientists report they have harnessed the power of 717,000 processors – the equivalent of 22,000 32-processor computers – to run complex oil and gas reservoir simulation models. Read more…

By Doug Black

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

Drug Developers Use Google Cloud HPC in the Fight Against ALS

February 16, 2017

Within the haystack of a lethal disease such as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis / Lou Gehrig’s Disease) there exists, somewhere, the needle that will pierce this therapy-resistant affliction. Read more…

By Doug Black

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Object Storage is the Ideal Storage Method for CME Companies

The communications, media, and entertainment (CME) sector is experiencing a massive paradigm shift driven by rising data volumes and the demand for high-performance data analytics. Read more…

Weekly Twitter Roundup (Feb. 16, 2017)

February 16, 2017

Here at HPCwire, we aim to keep the HPC community apprised of the most relevant and interesting news items that get tweeted throughout the week. Read more…

By Thomas Ayres

Alexander Named Dep. Dir. of Brookhaven Computational Initiative

February 15, 2017

Francis Alexander, a physicist with extensive management and leadership experience in computational science research, has been named Deputy Director of the Computational Science Initiative at the U.S. Read more…

Here’s What a Neural Net Looks Like On the Inside

February 15, 2017

Ever wonder what the inside of a machine learning model looks like? Today Graphcore released fascinating images that show how the computational graph concept maps to a new graph processor and graph programming framework it’s creating. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Azure Edges AWS in Linpack Benchmark Study

February 15, 2017

The “when will clouds be ready for HPC” question has ebbed and flowed for 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

Drug Developers Use Google Cloud HPC in the Fight Against ALS

February 16, 2017

Within the haystack of a lethal disease such as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis / Lou Gehrig’s Disease) there exists, somewhere, the needle that will pierce this therapy-resistant affliction. Read more…

By Doug Black

Azure Edges AWS in Linpack Benchmark Study

February 15, 2017

The “when will clouds be ready for HPC” question has ebbed and flowed for years. Read more…

By John Russell

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

Cray Posts Best-Ever Quarter, Visibility Still Limited

February 10, 2017

On its Wednesday earnings call, Cray announced the largest revenue quarter in the company’s history and the second-highest revenue year. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Cloud Startup Launches ‘App Store’ for HPC Workflows

February 9, 2017

“Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them,” Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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

US, China Vie for Supercomputing Supremacy

November 14, 2016

The 48th edition of the TOP500 list is fresh off the presses and while there is no new number one system, as previously teased by China, there are a number of notable entrants from the US and around the world and significant trends to report on. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

D-Wave SC16 Update: What’s Bo Ewald Saying These Days

November 18, 2016

Tucked in a back section of the SC16 exhibit hall, quantum computing pioneer D-Wave has been talking up its new 2000-qubit processor announced in September. Forget for a moment the criticism sometimes aimed at D-Wave. This small Canadian company has sold several machines including, for example, ones to Lockheed and NASA, and has worked with Google on mapping machine learning problems to quantum computing. In July Los Alamos National Laboratory took possession of a 1000-quibit D-Wave 2X system that LANL ordered a year ago around the time of SC15. Read more…

By John Russell

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

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

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

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

Leading Solution Providers

Nvidia Sees Bright Future for AI Supercomputing

November 23, 2016

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia made a strong showing at SC16 in Salt Lake City last week. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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

Dell Knights Landing Machine Sets New STAC Records

November 2, 2016

The Securities Technology Analysis Center, commonly known as STAC, has released a new report characterizing the performance of the Knight Landing-based Dell PowerEdge C6320p server on the STAC-A2 benchmarking suite, widely used by the financial services industry to test and evaluate computing platforms. The Dell machine has set new records for both the baseline Greeks benchmark and the large Greeks benchmark. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

What Knights Landing Is Not

June 18, 2016

As we get ready to launch the newest member of the Intel Xeon Phi family, code named Knights Landing, it is natural that there be some questions and potentially some confusion. Read more…

By James Reinders, Intel

KNUPATH Hermosa-based Commercial Boards Expected in Q1 2017

December 15, 2016

Last June tech start-up KnuEdge emerged from stealth mode to begin spreading the word about its new processor and fabric technology that’s been roughly a decade in the making. 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