A Japanese machine has become the fastest supercomputer in the world, making calculations three times faster than a Chinese rival, its developers said today.
The K Computer, developed by Fujitsu Ltd and the state-funded RIKEN institute of physical and chemical research, has achieved 8.162 quadrillion calculations per second (petaflops), they said.
One quadrillion is made up of a thousand trillions. It overtook China's Tianhe-1A of the National Supercomputing Centre in Tianjin, which became the world number-one in November and is capable of operating at 2.6 petaflops.
The K Computer's performance was recognised by the authoritative biannual Top500 List of Supercomputers released today at the 2011 International Supercomputing Conference in Hamburg, Germany.
It was the first time since 2004 that a supercomputer built in Japan has claimed the top spot. NEC's Earth Simulator reigned supreme from June 2002 to November 2004.
The machine is still being configured and has been assembled since October 2010 at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Kobe, western Japan. It is targeted to be completed by June 2012, the statement said.
It is made up of 672 computer cabinets equipped with a current total of 68,544 CPUs, Fujitsu and RIKEN said in a press release. "Use of the K computer is expected to have a groundbreaking impact in fields ranging from global climate research, meteorology, disaster prevention, and medicine, thereby contributing to the creation of a prosperous and secure society," it added.
Fujitsu and RIKEN chiefs said the project had overcome difficulties posed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country's northeast Tohoku region. Fujitsu chairman Michiyoshi Mazuka said he was grateful to "our partners in the Tohoku region for their commitment to delivering a steady supply of components, even though they themselves were affected by the disaster." RIKEN president Ryoji Noyori said: "I very much believe that the strength and perseverance that was demonstrated during this project will also make possible the recovery of the devastated Tohoku region."