As if rivalries between Japan and China weren’t strong enough with the Olympics and the nuclear arms race — now they are in a computer arms race — and Japan just stole the title of the world’s fastest supercomputer.
The previous holder of the world record was Tianjin’s Tianhe-1A, a supercomputer that could handle 2.566 quadrillion calculations per second. The new Japanese supercomputer computes 8.162 quadrillion calculations per second. Either way, wow — and ridiculous. The new ridiculously-fast supercomputer is packed with 68,544 eight-core processors, and is housed in 672 refrigerator-sized racks. And it uses 9.89 megawatts of juice, or enough to run 9,000 homes (shhh–don’t tell Greenpeace). Actually, it is quite energy efficient when compared to its predecessors — twice as efficient.
Hosted at Japan’s Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in Kobe, it’s name is — K Computer. Coming from the Japanese “kei”, it is their word-equivalent for 10 quadrillion — the calculations expected to be reached by the machine by the time it comes to market in 2012. Personally, I am curious what market there will be for it — although it sure would have helped me through 12th grade calculus.
Built by Fujitsu and Riken this new super computer is more powerful than the top five fastest computer systems around, combined. The government, Riken and Fujitsu, spent over 100 billion Yen on the machine — once again, what is the market going to be for this machine?
Interestingly enough they are only now figuring out possible applications for the computer. Perhaps they should let the computer compute the possibilities.
Previously super computers have been used to predict complex patterns for problems like weather prediction and climate change paradigms. The makers and researchers are hoping that it will help bolster the competitiveness of Japan Inc., and will hopefully make breakthroughs in drugs, new technologies — specifically renewable ones. The country also hopes it will be instrumental in helping predict tsunami’s, the natural, unpredictable, disaster that continually rocks the country’s coast.