For the first time in years, Japan has the fastest supercomputer in the world and it’s being used to research the spread and treatment of the novel coronavirus.
Fugaku, which was developed by Fujitsu () and government research institute Riken, ranked first in the Top500 list of global supercomputers, Fujitsu and Riken announced on Tuesday. It marks the first time a Japanese system has taken the top slot since 2011.
The Top500 measures benchmarks such as processing speed and the performance of computing used in artificial intelligence and deep learning.
Fugaku can perform more than 415 quadrillion (or 415,000 trillion) computations a second, making it 2.8 times faster than Summit, the supercomputer built by IBM () which previously held the top spot.
The leading-edge technology developed for Fugaku will hopefully “contribute to major advances on difficult social challenges such as Covid-19,” Satoshi Matsuoka, director of the Riken Center for Computational Science, said in a statement.
The Japanese supercomputer is already being used on an experimental basis for research on Covid-19, including on diagnostics, therapeutics, and simulations of the spread of the virus, Riken said in a statement in April. Fugaku — which is another name for Mount Fuji — is scheduled to be operating at full capacity next year.
Powered by chips from SoftBank-owned () Arm, the Japanese supercomputer knocked Summit into second place. Sierra, another US-built system, took third place, and two supercomputers developed by Chinese national research institutes, Sunway TaihuLight and Tianhe-2A, rounded out the top five.
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