Fugaku – The New Leader

  • Date 20th July 2020
  • Author William Galipeau
Fugaku – The New Leader

Every 6 months, supercomputers go head-to-head to battle to be the named fastest supercomputer on the planet. For the last two years, the US’s “Summit” was the fastest supercomputer on the planet but now running at 2.8 times faster than Summit, is Japan’s Fugaku – an exascale machine for AI.

Exascale computing refers to the capability to perform a billion billion (a quintillion) operations per second, designed with AI in mind. Fugaku completes a simple mathematical operation 415 quadrillion times a second. You’d need every person on Earth to complete a calculation a second for 20 months (without any bathroom breaks), to match what Fugaku does in a heartbeat.

Creating the world’s fastest computer is not a small undertaking. Fugaku took a billion dollars and the better part of the ensuing decade to build. It uses an efficient chip design commonly used in mobile devices as opposed to graphic processing units (GPUs) like many of its supercomputer competitors.

Supercomputers are often used for advanced climate modelling, protein simulations, nuclear explosion simulations and virtual weapons testing with Fugaku already being put to good use. Riken (the makers of Fugaku) have put it into operation a year ahead of its original 2021 launch date as it’s currently used for research into COVID-19 treatments, mapping how the virus is transmitted and can be slowed.

Fugaku even joined the Covid-19 High Performance Computing Consortium which has assembled 41 supercomputers capable of 483 petaflops to work on 66 projects, including some studying the virus’s biology, potential treatments, and how to improve patient care.

With the end of Moore’s law and exponential growth in computing power in sight, we’re excited to see Fugaku pushing the boundaries of supercomputing and even more so that’s it’s already being put to good use for COVID-19 research.

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