Japan pips China to make world’s fastest supercomputer

 
on June 20 2011 4:25 AM

A supercomputer made by Japan tops the latest ranking of the world's most powerful supercomputers, pushing China to the second place.

The computer, which is named K Computer, is three times faster than a Chinese supercomputer, New York Times reported, quoting Jack Dongarra, professor, University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

China had replaced the United States as the maker of the world's fastest supercomputer in the previous list of world’s top 500 powerful computers.

Built by Fujitsu and located at the Riken Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Kobe, Japan, the K computer presents a significant improvement in terms of speed compared to others.

 It's a very impressive machine, Dongarra said. It's a lot more powerful than the other computers.

The performance of K is equivalent to linking around one million desktop computers, Dongarra said.

The battle to build the fastest supercomputer has become a point of national pride as these high performance computers are used in areas like defense, energy, finance, science. They are also used for drug discovery, hurricane and tsunami modeling, cancer research, car design, and studying the formation of galaxies.

The new Japanese supercomputer is made up of 672 cabinets filled with system boards and the research firm that houses the computer plans to increase the size to 800 cabinets to improve its speed.

 In Japanese, “K” is short to “kanji”, meaning a unit corresponding to 10 peta, or 10 to the 16th power, which is the planned processing speed (10 peta¬ops) of the new computer.

China’s Tianhe-1A supercomputer, designed by the country’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT), had set a performance record of 2.507 petaflops, or quadrillion calculations per second last year.

Cray XT5 Jaguar system, the fastest computer in the US, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, now stands at third place.

Also, Japan and China occupy four of the top five positions in the latest ranking, reflecting a significant improvement in the area of supercomputing in Asian region.

However, the US remains the leader, holding five of the top 10 world's most powerful computers.

Japan has attained the top rating for making a supercomputer for the first time since 2004 after US and China held the top ranking earlier.

Blue Waters, a computer being developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, may compete with K in speed, Dongarra said.

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