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Fujitsu completes ‘post-K supercomputer’ prototype and begins trials

Fujitsu and Riken say their the joint development of the successor to the K supercomputer – one of the fastest in the world – is complete and is beginning trials.

The so-called “post-K” is a supercomputer that the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has chosen as a successor to the K computer, is moving forward, with the goal of beginning full operations around 2021.

Fujitsu has now completed the prototype central processing unit chip that will serve as the core of post-K, commencing functionality field trials. 

With post-K, Fujitsu and Riken aim to create the world’s highest-performing supercomputer, capable of tackling a broad range of applications to solve problems not only in the area of science and technology, but to play a role in a wide variety of issues in society.

To realize this goal, Fujitsu has adopted the widely used Arm instruction set architecture (ISA) in the CPU, while implementing expanded instructions newly formulated for supercomputers.

In addition to further enhancing the high memory bandwidth and double-precision arithmetic performance implemented in the K computer, Fujitsu has also added support for half-precision arithmetic, which remains critical to fields like AI.

Now, by verifying the initial operation of prototype CPU chips meeting these design standards, Fujitsu and RIKEN have smoothly cleared an important milestone in system development.

Moving forward, Fujitsu and Riken say they will continue development with a view to completing post-K and commencing full operations.

Akira Kabemoto, head of the service platform business at Fujitsu, says: “We are extremely pleased to announce genuine progress in the development of the post-K computer. Fujitsu has been developing and delivering the world’s top level supercomputers for over 40 years.

“The use of supercomputers has expanded beyond contributing to the development of science and technology through simulation to encompass areas like AI, emphasizing their importance as part of the infrastructure of society. With post-K, I believe we’ve combined all the various, cutting-edge technologies we have developed until now to create the world’s leading supercomputer.

“We hope this will ultimately contribute to the achievement of an abundant, human-centric future filled with dreams.”

Satoshi Matsuoka, director, Riken Center for Computational Science, says: “Because an architecture suited for high-performance computing was co-designed by Fujitsu and R-CCS, the post-K processors are expected to deliver performance far surpassing that of existing general-purpose server processors for many supercomputer applications, and considerably raising the system’s usability by using a broad software ecosystem through the adoption of the Arm instruction set, while at the same time delivering top-class performance not just in simulations, but also in a wide range of fields related to Society 5.0, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, security and blockchain technology, big data, and IoT.

“In this way, I am certain that post-K will not only contribute world-leading performance to meet the concerns of the people of Japan, it will also be a sign of the revitalization of Japan’s semiconductor technology.

“Having now verified the operation of the prototype CPU as planned, we have cleared a major step in the path to full operation of post-K around 2021, as well as toward subsequent developments.

“Going forward, R-CCS intends to even more vigorously pursue research and development, in collaboration with other related parties, in order to begin operations using post-K, the world’s top supercomputer, as soon as possible. Please look forward to it.”

Drew Henry, senior vice president and general manager, infrastructure line of business, Arm, says: “Arm has been deeply engaged with both Fujitsu and RIKEN, working to build an HPC ecosystem for the Armv8-A SVE architecture, opening a new chapter for Arm technology to scale the levels of vector processing.

“Our collaboration with Fujitsu and Riken represents our ongoing commitment to maximizing the success of the post-K design and marks a significant step toward deploying Arm-based technologies for HPC and potentially for a broader set of emerging applications.”

(Main picture: The K supercomputer, courtesy of Riken.)