THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT is poised to request funding for conceptual designs of a exascale high performance computing (HPC) cluster to replace the K computer.
Japan's K computer, which briefly held the top spot in the prestigious Top 500 list, was the first publicly disclosed 10 petaflops HPC cluster. Now Japan's Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry is set to request funding for creating conceptual designs of its replacement.
The Japanese government's funding, if approved, will come in the country's next fiscal year. Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun claimed that the cost of developing the country's first exascale cluster will be 110bn Yen, roughly the same cost as developing the K computer.
For countries such as China and Japan, HPC clusters such as the K computer are symbols of national pride and are used to showcase the country's technological capabilities. For example, Japan's K computer used SPARC chips made by Japanese chipmaker and computer manufacturer Fujitsu and used a custom designed Tofu interconnect, while Chinese HPC clusters are growing fond of using MIPS based chips designed and made by Chinese firms.
Chip vendors, in particular Intel, have talked at length about trying to reach the exascale performance mark. The problems faced by Intel and its rivals are not hitting the raw performance figures - that is possible with today's technology - but doing so in an energy and cost effective manner.
With Intel saying its goal is powering an exascale HPC cluster by 2020, it would be safe to say that Japanese researchers are also working on a similar timeframe should they receive funding. µ