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Fujitsu to use 64-bit ARMv8 CPUs in its exascale supercomputer

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June 20, 2016

Fujitsu said earlier today that it will use 64-bit ARMv8 CPU cores in its new exascale supercomputer it is currently building for a team of Japanese scientists.

Less than two years ago, the Japanese IT firm was hired by the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science to build the Flagship 2020 machine, dubbed the Post-K supercomputer because it will succeed Japan's K Supercomp.

The K machine is the 5th fastest known supercomputer in the world-- it can crunch 10.5 PFLOPS, needs 12 Mega Watts of power, and is made of 705,000 Sparc64 VIIIfx processor cores.

To say that this machine is fast would be an understatement. The Post-K machine is supposed to have 100 times more application performance than the K Supercomputer, making it a 1,000 PFLOPS beast and is due to go live in 2020.

The fastest supercomp in the world currently is China's 125.4 PFLOPS Sunway TaihuLight machine, which would be crushed by the Post-K if this happens.

At the International Supercomputing Conference 2016 in Frankfurt, Fujitsu revealed it will use ARMv8 CPU cores in its Post-K machine.

Exactly how many ARMv8 cores will be used and how they will be mixed with other chips such as GPU-based accelerators isn't known at this time.

But we're told by a source familiar with this matter that ARM will be the dominant architecture in the system.

In a presentation at the event, the technology giant said the 64-bit architecture will power the Post-K machine and that it has optimized the processor's design to accelerate math, and squeeze the most of the die caches, hardware prefetcher and its Tofu interconnect system.

Fujitsu is an ARM licensee. Like several other companies, it pays Britain-based ARM for the rights to use its CPU blueprints in its chips.

While this switch to the ARMv8 architecture may be seen as a snub to Intel (whose processors power the vast majority of data center servers and supercomputers) Fujitsu appears to be a big fan of classic RISC architectures, stepping from Sparc64 to 64-ARM.

Whatever happens out of all of this is still a bit early to tell, but more details are expected to emerge tomorrow at a followup presentation at ISC '16.

Dr Hisashi Yashiro of RIKEN will give a "brief introduction to the system and co-design items in the Post-K project."

The Flagship 2020 machine will be used to work on "scientific and social issues," according to RIKEN. "Weather and climate studies for disaster prevention and mitigation" are a high-priority for the system.

Source: Fujitsu.

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