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Supercomputing in Japan

Sverre Jarp and Wolfgang Bez


The Japanese supercomputer market and the impact of Japanese supercomputers on the world market has changed substantially since the last TOP500 list was published. There are three important developments. First, the Japanese users and manufacturers rely more heavily on vector processing for high performance. Second, the Japanese manufacturers are integrating vector processing into novel scalable parallel computer architectures. Third, the Japanese government and private companies are investing considerable money into these very high performance computer systems. A major government sponsered supercomputer procurement program was completed in 1993 with 11 major procurements and a volume of more than a quarter billion US dollars. Different types of supercomputers were procured, traditional shared memory vector multiprocessors, RISC based MPP systems, and also the newly introduced vector parallel systems. The move towards RISC based parallel computers is not as strong in Japan as in other parts of the world. Both Japanese users and manufacturers continue to rely on vector instructions and large SRAM memories for computing power. At the same time MPP systems are investigated very thoroughly in manufacturer's and user's research labs.

Japanese organizations like powerful computers. Japan has now only about 16% (82) of the systems in the list as opposed to 106 last year. But these systems contribute 27% (709 Gflop/s) to the worldwide installed Rmax performance. The difference is mainly caused by a large number of older generation systems (NEC SX-2 and SX-1, Hitachi S-820/60 smaller, Fujitsu VP-2200 or smaller, and Cray) falling off the list. In spite of the reduced number of systems, Japan has now more Rmax per inhabitant (5.7 Kflop/s) than the US (5.6 Kflop/s) and far more than Europe (1.3 Kflop/s). On the first page of the list, the top 20 computers, 12 are from Japanese and 8 are American manufacturers. For the first time, two Japanese manufacturers are deviating substantially from their American competitors in their basic supercomputer design. Scalable vector parallel computers are being introduced by both Fujitsu and NEC, with the design goal of combining the high single processor performance of vector processors with the high scalability of CMOS technology.

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Next: Introduction
Tue Nov 14 15:13:46 PST 1995