Fugaku is now the most powerful calculating machine in the world. Co-developed by Fujitsu and Riken, this supercomputer obtained the result of 415.5 petaflops in the Linpack performance test.
Petaflops? The "Peta" means 10 15, and the "flops" correspond to " floating-point operations per second ", in other words, Fugaku is capable of performing more than 415 million billion operations per second, and it seems well placed to officially break down the wall of an exaflop (1,000 petaflops).
Research against Covid-19
Thanks to this performance, the Japanese supercomputer won first place in the TOP500, a semiannual ranking of the fastest machines in the world.
Its main competitor Summit, designed by IBM, is getting a bit old: Fugaku, whose scores are just as good according to other test methods, is 2.8 times more powerful than him.
It is usually American and Chinese devices that compete for the enviable place of the most powerful calculator in the world. Among the machines referenced in the TOP500, 226 are Chinese, 114 American, 30 Japanese, and 18 French. The combined power of the most efficient American supercomputers stands at 644 petaflops.
For its part, Fugaku has allowed almost alone to increase the computing capacity of the world from 1.65 to 2.23 exaflops in six months. This breakthrough could be very useful in research against the Covid-19, an area in which the Japanese machine debuted.
Also note that Fugaku, which makes good use of Fujitsu's 48-core A64FX processors, is an excellent publicity announcement - no doubt unintended - for Apple. It is the first time that a supercomputer equipped with processors with ARM architecture, the very one that the American company announced with noise for its future Macs, takes the head of the TOP500.
Supercomputer offers 77 molecules against Covid-19
To speed up research, the United States is pooling the computing power of its computer monsters.
Designed by IBM and hosted by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, Summit is the most powerful supercomputer in the world, with a computing capacity estimated at 200 petaflops.
To give an idea, it is in a single second the equivalent of what 6.3 billion human beings could calculate provided they perform the same operation every second of every minute of every hour, for a year whole.
Summit is of course not the only monster of its kind in the United States. Other federal agencies (NASA in particular) have up computers, as do private firms like Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, or IBM.
Almost all of these public and private players have decided, by mutual agreement, to put this phenomenal computing power at the service of finding a treatment against Covid-19. Scientists may have access to "machine time" after a reasoned request.
Speed up research time
These giant computers can, thanks to their simulation and modeling capabilities or rapid analysis of oceans of data, greatly accelerate the precise study of the virus and its particularities, as well as the search for a vaccine or molecules and treatments capable, in theory, of being effective against the targeted enemy.
The first results were not long in coming. A research team has thus published a pre-paper on ChemRxiv in which it describes the seventy-seven molecules that Summit has suggested to them, after the ingestion and processing of mountains of studies and data, to fight or help to fight the Covid-19.
It is of course only the first step on a very long way before any possible new treatment is considered useful and approved for use on sick people, and the team responsible for this publication remains logically cautious.
In these dark times, however, this is already a significant hope. It is all the more so since this pooling of petaflops is only starting its war against the virus and that other teams, with other ideas, will be able to use these computer weapons for their research.