I’ve long felt Japan has been severely overlooked in recent years due to two “lost decades” and China overshadowing it — and supercomputing is no exception.
In 2011, Fujitsu launched the K computer at the Riken Advanced Institute for Computational Science campus in Kobe, Japan. Calling it a computer really is a misnomer, though, as is the case in any supercomputer these days. When I think “computer,” I think of the 3-foot-tall black tower a few feet from me making the room warm. In the case of K, it’s rows and rows of cabinets stuffed with rack-mounted servers in a space the size of a basketball court.
With its distributed memory architecture, K had 88,128 eight-core SPARC64 VIIIfx processors in 864 cabinets. Fujitsu was a licensee of Sun Microsystems’ SPARC processor (later Oracle) and did some impressive work on the processor on its own. When it launched in 2011, the K was ranked the world’s fastest supercomputer on the TOP500 supercomputer list, at a computation speed of over 8 petaflops. It has since been surpassed by supercomputers from the U.S. and China.