RIKEN and Fujitsu today announced that operational testing of their jointly developed K computer (*1) has been completed as of June 29. The K computer will now be available for limited operations while it undergoes operational environment settings, adjustments, and user registration. It is due to go into full-scale operations for shared use at the end of September.
Working together under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology's (MEXT) high-performance computing infrastructure (HPCI) initiative, Fujitsu and RIKEN developed the K computer with the goal of completing operational testing by the end of June 2012. The K computer brings together leading-edge technologies, including ultrafast and energy-efficient CPUs and a network capable of an immense amount of interconnectivity for high-performance and exceptional reliability. Installation of the supercomputer began in September 2010, and by the end of August 2011 all 864 racks had been delivered and installed. In the TOP500 (*2) ranking of the world's fastest supercomputers, the K computer ranked first for two consecutive reporting periods, June 2011 and November 2011, also winning top honors in all four divisions of the HPC Challenge (*3), and taking home the Gordon Bell (*4) award, as proof of its performance in real-world applications.
The K computer is a general-purpose supercomputer designed to offer high computing performance with support for a broad range of applications, making it useful to engineers and researchers in Japan and around the world. The process of installing and tuning the operating system, job manager, parallelization library, and other system software for the large-scale system environment was undertaken in autumn 2011. At the same time, part of the K computer was made available as a testing environment to researchers participating in Grand Challenge application software development project (*5) and HPCI strategic programs (*6), intended to quickly produce groundbreaking results in fields designated by the Japanese government as having strategic importance.
With the installation of the K computer's system software to maximize the system's usability and hardware performance, the K computer has completed its final operational testing.
2. Uses of the K computer and the Future
The K computer represents a dramatic leap forward in terms of simulation precision and calculation speed. It can be applied to a variety of fields that use computational science, and holds the promise of contributing to world-class breakthroughs, such as:
Early development of next-generation semiconductor materials—particularly nanowires and carbon nanotubes that are expected to lead to future fast-response, low-power devices—through simulations and analysis of the characteristics of nanomaterials used in electronic devices.
Pharmaceutical applications such as reduction of drug discovery-related times and costs by predicting which compounds, from among a massive number of drug candidate molecules, will prevent illnesses by binding with active regions on the proteins that cause illnesses.
Simulating the actions of atoms and electrons in dye-sensitized solar cells to contribute to the development of solar cells with higher energy-conversion efficiency.
Simulating seismic wave propagation, strong motion, and tsunamis to predict the effects they will have on human-made structures; predicting the extent of earthquake-impact zones for disaster prevention purposes; and contributing to the design of quake-resistant structures.
Conducting high-resolution (800-m) simulations of atmospheric circulation models to provide detailed predictions of weather phenomena that elucidate localized effects, such as cloudbursts.
With the system being completed, its partial early use in the Grand Challenge application software development project and HPCI strategic programs will continue as the system is prepared for shared use that will commence at the end of September while it undergoes operational environment settings, adjustments, and registration of users who have been selected by the Research Organization for Information Science and Technology.