Fujitsu K computer breaks 10 petaflop barrier

Fujitsu has broken all previous supercomputing records with the Sparc64-based K system that it put together for the Japanese government. The record? 10 petaflops, this super computer being the first to ever surpass it.

To put this into context, the most powerful GPU Nvidia currently produces, the GTX 590, outputs just 2488 GFLOPS. Looking at a handy comparison table, we can deduce that in an approximation of computing power, you would need at least 4,000 of these GTX cards to equate the computational power of the K.

Initially known as Project Keisoku, the production of the K powerhouse began several years ago and was supposed to involve NEC and Hitachi as well as Fujitsu. However, during the economic downturn both of these firms pulled out, leaving Fujitsu to pick up the pieces and finish the construction on its own. Still, chances are it got a bigger share of the $1.2 billion price tag for this beast, so I doubt it's complaining much.

Now housed in the Rikagaku Kenkyusho research lab in Kobe, Japan, the K system packs an impressive 864 server racks, totalling 22,032 blade servers with watercooling blocks not only on the processors but the memory too. Considering each one of these is a four-socket setup and the CPUs used are eight-core, 2GHz 'Venus' Sparc64-VIIIfx processors, this equates out an incredible 705,024 cores.

Despite having all this power and being the first to break the 10 petaflop barrier, the K machine's run at the top may be short-lived. IBM, maker of supercomputers such as Blue Gene, is set to unveil a new variant known as 'Sequoia' which will purportedly have the potential to hit 20 petaflops. Crazy isn't far behind, promising that 2012 will be the year in which it also delivers a system in this region of performance.