Japan Overtakes China with Eight Petaflop Fastest Computer On Earth

An Japanese supercomputer has grabbed the title of fastest computer on earth in the new Top 500 Supercomputing List officially unveiled at the International Supercomputing Conference in Hamburg today.

The K Computer is based at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Kobe, Japan, and smashes the previous supercomputing records with a processing power of more than 8 petaflop/s (quadrillion calculations per second) - three times that of its nearest rival.

Second place, and the fastest machine on the list when it was last published in November was the Tianhe-1A, built by the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin, China, In the latest round-up, the Chinese machine achieved 2.6 petaflop/s.

The K Computer's success marks the first time Japan has claimed the number one spot on the Supercomputing Top 500 since November 2004, when NEC's Earth Simulator was dethroned after a two-year reign.

In contrast to many of other machines on the list, the K Computer works without using GPU power. The K Computer was built by Fujitsu, and contains more than 80,000 2GHz SPARC64 VIIIfx CPUs, each with eight cores, to deliver a total of more than 640,000 processing cores.

The K Computer consumes the most power - something, we'd imagine, in short supply in Japan at the moment - of any of the systems on the list. It draws a massive 9.89 megawatts. But given its gigantic processing output, it still manages to be the fourth most energy-efficient system in the 500, with a performance-per-watt rating of 825 megaflops per Watt. That compares to the average power efficiency among the 500 of 248 Mflop/W, up from 219 Mflop/W six months ago.