Japan's Fugaku supercomputer is tackling some of the world's biggest problems

Japan Times -- Jan 08
Japan’s Fugaku supercomputer — which in June ranked first in the global Top500 list of such machines, the first time for a Japanese machine in about nine years — was surprisingly not created with the aim of excelling in numerical benchmarks, unlike some of its rivals.

Instead, it was born with an “application-first philosophy,” meaning that its exclusive purpose is to dedicate its computational excellence to tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges, such as climate change, says Satoshi Matsuoka, 57, the mastermind behind the project.

“Benchmark excellence is not our priority,” he said in an interview conducted in near flawless English. Instead, he said, its success is assessed “based on how much we can accelerate the applications that are important in society.”

As the director of Riken’s Center for Computational Science, Matsuoka and his team have set out nine application areas for Fugaku to work on that are of importance to society, such as medicine, pharmacology, disaster prediction and prevention, environmental sustainability and energy.

Matsuoka began leading the team developing the next-generation supercomputer in around 2010, just before its predecessor K computer became the world’s fastest supercomputer in the Top500 benchmark by conducting more than 10 quadrillion calculations per second.

Fugaku, set to be officially launched in 2021 at Riken’s facility in Kobe, won international acclaim for becoming the world’s first supercomputer to grab the top spot in all four Top500 categories — raw computational speed, big data processing, deep learning with artificial intelligence and practical simulation calculations.

- Japan Times