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ARM-based exascale  supercomputer takes top spot, tackles Covid-19

ARM-based exascale supercomputer takes top spot, tackles Covid-19

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt



A supercomputer in Japan based in chips using the ARM architecture is the world’s highest performance system for the first time. The system is being used to model the Covid-19 virus as part of the fight against the pandemic.

Fugaku, built with Fujitsu’s 48-core A64FX system on chip, has a High Performance Linpack (HPL) result of 415.5 petaflops. This is nearly three times the performance of the previous leading supercomputer, Summit, at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee. 

The system has 158,976 nodes in 432 racks with a total of 4.85 PBytes of memory connected at 163PB/s. In a move away from the traditional flashing lights, the middle four racks are blank, allowing a video projection of Mt Fuji (another name for Fugaku) as the startup sequency.

In single or further reduced precision, which are often used in machine learning and AI applications, Fugaku’s peak performance is over 1,000 petaflops (1 exaflops), ushering in the exascale age in supercomputing.

The new system is installed at RIKEN Center for Computational Science (R-CCS) in Kobe, Japan. Researchers are using it to evaluate the effectiveness of over 2,000 drugs that could be used ot treat patients of Covid-19.

“I hope that the cutting-edge IT developed for Fugaku will contribute to major advances on difficult social challenges such as Covid-19,” said Satoshi Matsuoka, the head of Riken’s centre for computational science.

The most energy-efficient system on the Green500 is the MN-3, based on a new server from Preferred Networks. It achieved a record 21.1 gigaflops/watt during its 1.62 petaflops performance run. The system derives its superior power efficiency from the MN-Core chip, an accelerator optimized for matrix arithmetic. It is ranked number 395 in the TOP500 list.


In second position in energy efficiency is a new NVIDIA Selene supercomputer, a DGX A100 SuperPOD powered by the new A100 GPUs. This ranks at seven on the TOP500 for performance.

The Fugaku supercomputer is ninth in the power efficiency, with 14.67 gigaflops per watt. Perhaps surprisingly given the use of the ARM cores, it is just behind the IBM Power-based Summit in power efficiency at 14.72 gigaflops/watt. A full report on the Fugaku system by Jack Dongerra of the University of Manchester is at the

The Top500 list is at www.top500.org

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