Japan-made K supercomputer to shut down; successor Fugaku to replace it around 2021

The Yomiuri Shimbun. The K supercomputer. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.


TOKYO, Aug 16, 2019, The Japan News. The Japan-made K supercomputer, one of the world’s top supercomputers, which has been in operation for eight years at the RIKEN Center for Computational Science in Kobe, will end its role Friday, reported The Japan News.

A more sophisticated successor, called Fugaku, will be installed at the site, with full-scale operation scheduled to begin around 2021.

K was jointly developed by RIKEN and Fujitsu Ltd., and part of the system started operation in March 2011. In the same year, it achieved a speed exceeding the development target of 1 quadrillion calculations per second and became the world’s fastest supercomputer in the “TOP 500” international rankings for supercomputers based on calculation speed.

The system began full-scale operations in September 2012 and has been used in a wide range of calculations, including ones related to drug discoveries, weather forecasting and materials development.

According to RIKEN, more than 2,500 Japanese and foreign researchers have used the system and achieved many fruitful results.

However, as the world ranking has fallen to 20th due to the fierce international competition for supercomputer development in recent years, K will be replaced by Fugaku, which has a calculation performance of about 100 times that of K.

K’s final computations will finish at midnight Friday. On Aug. 30, the power supply will be turned off and the task of dismantling and removal will begin.

As for the K supercomputer, which the education ministry took the initiative to develop, Renho, a member of the House of Councillors, asked in a budget screening in 2009 under the government led by the Democratic Party, “Is second place not good?” She faced a fierce backlash from the scientific community.

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