Fugaku: The Japanese Supercomputer That Puts IBM to Shame

Andrei Tapalaga

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A picture of the developing Fugaku supercomputer in Japan, source: CNN

This next-generation supercomputer that can be assumed it came out of old Science fiction movies has been in development for the last 6 years. This supercomputer is the first to utilize an ARM processor, to be more exact a Fujitsu’s 48-core A64FX system-on-chip. Our world houses around 600 supercomputers, but this one is truly ahead of its time and puts the rest to shame.

The future of supercomputers is here

The Fugaku supercomputer, a system jointly developed by Japan’s RIKEN research institute and Fujitsu Ltd in Kobe, Japan, topped the TOP500, a list of the world’s most powerful computers, published twice a year, according to Reuters.

The processor technology comes from ARM, which is headquartered in the United Kingdom but is owned by Softbank Group Corp. in Japan.

The system dethroned by Fugaku, which was ranked first in November 2019, is that of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States, based on IBM processors. In fact, IBM and Intel Corp. processors dominated the top 10, except for a system at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, China, with processors created in that country.

Governments use supercomputers to simulate nuclear explosions or even design nuclear reactors to perfection. At the same time, they are used for modeling climate systems and for research in biotechnology. The Fugaku supercomputer will be used in such research as part of the Japanese technology program “Society 5.0”.

“I very much hope that Fugaku will prove to be extremely effective in real-world applications and will help make Company 5.0 a success,” said Naoki Shinjo, Fujitsu’s chief executive.

In November, the ARM technology-based system ranked highest in the TOP500’s most energy-efficient supercomputers. Arm also announced that the system also took first place in a list designed to closely resemble real computing tasks. How fast you make as? Well, 415 quadrillion computations per second! This is 3 times faster than your average than the supercomputer holding the record

Scientists from 11 countries worked together for 6years to build the world’s fastest supercomputer. Contemporary scientific research is producing an increasing amount of information, generating the need for new supercomputers to analyze that data. An international team, in which researchers from 11 countries have been co-opted and which has worked for 6 years in order to build this next-gen supercomputer that will be used for various tasks (especially processing large amounts of data).

At the same time, many debates have risen due to the heavy investment required to develop and build such supercomputers. This is because the media is only publicizing their performance to set records such as extremely fast searches, but these computers are mainly used for mathematical equations that would take a human month’s to calculate, whereas such a computer can do it in minutes.

What is more important to take into consideration is that due to the length and difficulty of such equations, human errors are easy to make, whilst a computer can never be wrong. The equations worked out by such supercomputers will build the future of our society, therefore justifying their need.

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