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Japan begins planning exascale super

Seeking funds for design project

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Japan is plotting its return to global supercomputing dominance, with its science ministry seekings funds to design the successor to its K supercomputer, to be completed by 2020.

According to The Asahi Shumbun, the new project aims to create a super with 100 times the processing capacity of the Fujitsu-Riken Research Institute-developed K, a 10 petaflop unit commissioned in 2011.

The Sparc64-based K was the first to pass the 10 petaflop level. To reach that mark, it needed 864 server racks, more than 22,000 four-socket blade servers, and 705,000 cores – and it was surpassed during 2012 by the US supers Titan and Sequoia, leaving it in third place.

Japan's Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry wants the next super to be exaflop-capable, to match plans for similar capacity by the US, China, and European countries. However, the government also hopes to reach its target of a quintillion computations per second without laying out quite as much as the 110-billion Yen paid for K (nearly $US1 billion).

Building that kind of machine won't just be a matter of cutting a Linux variant that can run jobs across a (likely) billion cores. Developers with an exascale target will be dealing with daunting power and performance challenges along the way. ®

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