Next-Generation Supercomputer to Be Scalar/Vector Multi-System, Developed by Hitachi, NEC and Fujitsu

Jun 14, 2007
Tetsuo Nozawa, Nikkei Electronics

The Working Group for the Assessment of the Next-Generation Supercomputer Framework Design under Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has summarized and disclosed an "assessment report" about the architecture of the next-generation supercomputer being developed toward the goal set in FY2011.

The report predicts that the next-generation supercomputer's architecture will be a multi-system combining an accelerator-embedded scalar computer and a vector computer. Leveraging the most advanced technologies of leading Japanese manufacturers, RIKEN, in collaboration with the three-firm alliance of Hitachi, NEC and Fujitsu, will address the development.

The next-generation supercomputer, previously called "general-purpose post-PFLOPS computer," is a computing system aimed at achieving a floating point calculation speed of over 10 PFLOPS.

As a specific goal for computing performance, the report cited "winning the top position in June 2011" in the "TOP500," a ranking website targeting supercomputers. The multi-system is already due to be established in Kobe.

The ministry's working group issued this assessment report after testing the validity of the architecture proposed by RIKEN. The report was finally submitted after holding a total of eight meetings from March to June 2007.

The result of the assessment was basically "valid and appropriate," and therefore the next-generation supercomputer will be developed based on the abovementioned architecture.

To develop two kinds of processors

The outline of the architecture is that; a scalar processor-based computing system added with an accelerator is combined with a vector processor-based computing system.

The scalar and vector units exchange data through a common file system. This enables the supercomputer to choose computing environments suited for the type of calculation executed in diverse large-scale simulations.

The team will develop the two kinds of processors in parallel using 45-nm process technology.

The team will develop not only hardware but also software at the same time. Through job management by the "control frontend," users will be able to choose an optimum computing environment without even noticing the difference between these two systems, according to the report.

As of September 2006, RIKEN had announced that it would consider a plan from Fujitsu, as well as one jointly proposed by NEC and Hitachi. However, RIKEN decided to implement both systems, rather than choosing only one.

In light of their historical backgrounds of developments, it appears that the NEC/Hitachi group proposed a vector system, while Fujitsu proposed a scalar system.