by Anton Shilov
12/28/2010 | 11:00 PM
Fujitsu Limited, a leading maker of electronics, plans to return to the worldwide market of supercomputers next year with its next-generation K computer-series of high-performance machines after ten years of absence. While the exact details are unclear, a local media report claims that Fujitsu had already started negotiations with European partners.
Supercomputers made in Japan were once a threat to systems built in the U.S. and based on microprocessors developed in the country. However, with the launch of Intel Pentium Pro, Intel Pentium II processors and eventually Xeon-series and AMD Athlon chips supercomputer makers started to migrate to x86-based offerings and by the early aughts the share of Japanese manufacturers of supercomputers shrank massively. As a consequence, many Japanese companies quit the market of concentrated on high-performance computing (HPC) systems for local institutions.
In late September, 2010, Fujitsu said that it would build a new supercomputer called "K computer" that will become a central part of the High-Performance Computing Infrastructure (HPCI) initiative led by Japan's ministry of education, culture, sports, science and technology (MEXT). The system is projected to have whopping performance of 10PetaFLOPS, several times higher compared to the world's highest-performing supercomputer.
Apparently, at least some institutions from the overseas also got interested in the project and such systems. Japanese business daily Yomiuri reports that Fujitsu "has been negotiating exports" with the France-based administrative organization of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), an organization developing next-generation reactors. ITER Agreement brings together the China, the European Atomic Energy Community (via EURATOM), India, Japan, the South Korea, the Russian Federation and the United States of America in an international collaboration to establish fusion as a new source of energy.
Fujitsu K supercomputing system will be comprised of more than 800 computer racks, each installed with Fujitsu's SPARC64 VIIIfx central processing units (CPUs). Each of these eight-core processors possesses a computational performance of 128 gigaFLOPS, and has a degree of reliability inherited from Fujitsu's mainframe technology. The CPUs are also highly energy efficient, with a world-class processing power of 2.2 gigaFLOPS per watt.
The supercomputer will comprise of over 80 000 of these processors in an interconnected network (interconnect), utilizing the world's first six-dimensional mesh-torus topology developed by Fujitsu. This will permit the system to be used more efficiently, as multiple processes can be flexibly allocated to groups of processors.
The system is expected to adopt water cooling methods to cool processors and other major heat emitters. This enables high mounting densities to be combined with improved component life and reduced failure rates.