Japanese Fugaku supercomputer with ARM CPUs takes first place in Top500 list

Fujitsu’s Fugaku supercomputer with A64FX processors has been commissioned in Japan. The system has a total of 7.3 million ARM cores and is in first place in the Top500 list. It is the first time that an ARM system has claimed that position.

The Japanese supercomputer overthrows the American Summit. In operation since 2018, Summit features IBM Power9 CPUs paired with Nvidia GV100 accelerators and achieved peak performance of up to 200 petaflops. The Japanese Fugaku supercomputer peaks at 513 petaflops, or about half an exaflop.

The Japanese system is more powerful, but also consists of more nodes and consumes more. The Fugaku is made up of 158,976 nodes, each equipped with an A64FX processor from Fujitsu. That ARM processor has 48 cores that run at 2GHz, with a boost to 2.2GHz. The processors are combined with 32GB hbm2.

The Japanese Riken Institute would only start using the Fugaku supercomputer in 2021, but this has been accelerated due to the corona pandemic. The system is used for research calculations, including projects to combat Covid-19.

Fugaku consumes 28MW, almost three times as much as Summit, which needs about 10MW. This makes the Japanese supercomputer slightly less efficient than the former number 1. In the Green500 list, which concerns performance per watt, Fugaku is in ninth place and Summit at 8.

Fugaku supercomputer in Japan

The Top500 list of supercomputers is updated twice a year. It concerns performance based on the Linpack benchmark. While an ARM system is now in first place, a number of x86 supercomputers with more computing power are already under development.

The US Department of Energy has planned supercomputer Aurora for 2021, with Intel Xeon CPUs and Xe GPUs. This system must reach at least an exaflops. In the same year, the ministry will receive the Frontier supercomputer, with AMD hardware that must deliver 1.5 exaflops.

Work is underway on a supercomputer based on AMD Zen 4 cores for the American Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the institute that performs simulations of existing and new nuclear weapons, among other things. That system, called El Capitan, will have 2.2 exaflops of computing power and is expected to be delivered in early 2023.