Fujitsu aims Sparc64 supers beyond Japan
Special K, meet Monsieur Fusion
Japanese supercomputer maker Fujitsu is looking to export massively parallel RISC supers based on the 10 petaflops Project K machine it's building for the Japanese government.
According to a report in the Yomiuri Shimbun, Fujitsu is gearing up to export supercomputers based on the K machine this year. The obvious place for Fujitsu to start exports is in Europe, where it has a strong presence of its own (thanks to its long server partnership with and then acquisition of the Siemens IT unit), but given that the K machine can run either Solaris or Linux, there is no reason why the Sparc64-based clusters cannot be sold in the United States and China.
Back in 1997, Fujitsu and NEC were driven out of the supercomputer racket in the US after heavy lobbying by Cray compelled the Department of Commerce to impose heavy import duties on gear sold by the Japanese super makers. It was a $35m bid from May 1996 to put a 128-processor SX-4 vector supercomputer into the National Center for Atmospheric Research that got the senators from Wisconsin and Minnesota to lean on the Clinton Administration and find that the three Japanese companies were illegally dumping their HPC gear in the US market. The Commerce Department eventually imposed 454 per cent import duties on NEC and 173 per cent duties on Fujitsu.
Ironically, nationalism and the stiff competition in the supercomputer business are what compelled the Japanese government to allocate $1.2bn in January 2006 to the original Project Keisoku effort, which had NEC and Hitachi creating a new vector supercomputer engine and interconnect and Fujitsu building a scalar Sparc64 module that could plug into it to yield a hybrid vector-scalar machine weighing in at an aggregate 10 petaflops.
The only problem was the Great Recession, which slammed the financials of NEC and Hitachi, forcing them to bail on Project Keisoku in May 2009. Fujitsu picked up the interconnect – Tofu, which implements a 6D mesh/torus cluster of server nodes – committing to building a 10 petaflops scalar super.
The machine is now known simply as K, and its nodes have water cooling on four processor sockets and on their main memory, and each processor will have eight cores using the future Sparc64-VIIIfx processor. The K super will have over 80,000 of these eight-core processors to hit that 10 petaflops performance level.
At 2 GHz, this Sparc64-VIIIfx chip, which is implemented in 45 nanometer processes, will burn at 58 watts and deliver 2.2 gigaflops per watt, as El Reg detailed when Fujitsu started building the K box for Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and installing it in the Riken lab in Kobe last September. The K machine is expected to be installed and fully operational by the fall of 2012, slipping from a late 2011 delivery date from a few years back.
It is possible that Fujitsu could get smaller chunks of the K machine ready before then, of course. Given the high cost of manufacturing the Sparc64-VIIIfx machines, their interconnect, and their cooling and frames, you can bet that Fujitsu wants to spread those costs out over more than one customer. The Yomiuri Shimbun report says that Fujitsu is currently in discussions with the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor facility in France for a possible sale of a K box. This is an ideal first customer, given that ITER is a fusion research facility established by the US, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and Japan back in 1985. China, India, and South Korea joined two decades later.
The ITER fusion reactor is being built now in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. The Tokamak reactor site is being prepared now and the reactor is expected to begin its experiments in 2019. It will take a little longer before the ITER effort comes up with Mr Fusion, of course. (Or, perhaps more appropriately, Monsieur Fusion). And it will no doubt take a tremendous amount of supercomputing horsepower to design and run the Tokamak fusion reactor, which is why Fujitsu is starting its K export efforts at ITER. ®
Re: AC, EU Champions
I am not receiving the comissions of any industry lobby group or any large EU corporation mentioned. Neither does my employer have any relation to them. My job is financial data querying/distributing and my employer's customers are banks.
I only have a somewhat logically functioning mind and functioning memory. In the past I bought quite a bit of the BS the american and british media is producing in nice prose all the time. I admit it took time to read between the lines and to see through all that civilised-englishmen-fighting-for-the-good-by-installing-the-shah-and-thugs-while-protecting-BP-interest-you-are-a-nazi-if-you-disagree.
Also, I can see the facts, and these do definitely not look good for Britain and America. Whether French and German industrial policy is fair to bankers and entrepreneuers does not rob my sleep. What matter to me is the the common man and woman who lives in France and the common man and woman who live in Britain and the U.S. It seems to me that France is a much more civilized place than the U.K. or the U.S.A. Because you get housing when you need it and because your teeth are fixed before every single tooth has to become black and being pulled. Call me a commie, call me whatever you like, but France is not the tyranny you Anglos are making it.
Yeah, it might be quite paternalistic and elitist in the executive section, but if you look up the definition of paternalism, it is about looking for the kids on the street. Looking for their teeth. Yeah, that's good and it does not affect your ability to say whatever you like.
And industrial politics works, whether it is fair or unfair does not matter if it keeps a marvellous system like the French system at work. To paraphrase somebody "industrial policy is the worst of all economic policies, except for all others". China is doing it, France is doing it, Germany is doing it, Sweden is doing it, only in UK-USA the banksters want The Freedom To Loot The People. And they still get it. Let the experiment continue.
All this sounds like the ravings of a EuroPork advocate: massive backhanders to privileged corporations who promise to make "European business world-class" but who actually manage to tilt the competitive landscape away from anyone actually wanting to get stuff done without having their hands in the sizeable EU purse all the time.
I don't doubt that there are some corporations who get stuff done in Europe, but it's interesting how they sit around soaking up EU grants until, say, some upstart like SpaceX or the rather more established Scaled Composites actually goes and does stuff like actually launch spacecraft mostly on their own initiative, and then it's all "We've got a design for that, too, let us build it!" from the likes of EADS, with their hands out for more bail-outs and funding for design studies. "We know it must be possible - let us consider how! Look at these renderings!" How about looking at what other people are damned well doing in real life?
But anyway, EU funding: not a bad idea in principle, just not a good one when people start nominating "industry champions" as if they're picking their fantasy football team, which is probably how some of the politicians involved like to see it.
The Eurofighter is the most successful latest-generation aircraft and has been sold in a big deal to Arabia and a smaller deal to Austria; it defends the borders of Europe in Estonia against the very real threat of the Su-34. America has NOT deployed the F-22, despite the magical claims made.
The Euro-Leopard is the mainstay of European land forces and would defend the east of Europe against an armoured incursion by T-80/90 tanks. Thyssen-Krupp/Komkums is making subs which defend the freedom from Göteborg to Singapore.
MAN/Skoda/SEAT/VW/Scania are challenging Toyota's number one position with equal quality and business success. The Volkswagen group is already more European than Airbus.
Airbus is a huge success story, as is Dassault Systeme's Catia. But all of that does not mesh with Anglosaxon/UKUSA dreams of world domination, and that is why Langley feeds everybody who bothers to listen with that "Europe is bad, bad authoritarian communism" meme.
Meanwhile the people who suffer the unchecked banksters want to chop the head of the future British Monarch... When will you wake up to the reality ??