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Sep. 27, 2012

K computer now available for shared use

On September 28th, RIKEN and RIST (Research Organization for Information Science and Technology) officially made the K computer1, a supercomputer developed since 2006, available for use by members of academia and industry. In cooperation with users from a variety of different computational science fields, RIKEN and RIST will work to translate the K computer's exceptional simulation precision and computational speed into world-class research breakthroughs.


The K computer is a supercomputer developed as a core system of the innovative High Performance Computing Infrastructure (HPCI) being pursued by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

Development of the K computer by RIKEN and Fujitsu began in 2006, and operational testing was completed in June of this year. The user environment was then set up in preparation for shared use of the computer, and users were registered on the system. Meanwhile, in the TOP5002 ranking of the world's fastest supercomputers, the K computer ranked first for two consecutive reporting periods, in June 2011 and November 2011, also winning top honors in all four divisions of the HPC Challenge3, and taking home the Gordon Bell4 award, as proof of its performance in real-world applications.

Proposals for general use category of the K computer were evaluated by RIST from its neutral standpoint as The Registered Institution for Facilities Use Promotion. On September 3rd, RIST announced the results of the first selection process for research proposals for the period up to the end of 2013, a list of 62 projects (29 general use projects, 8 young researcher projects, and 25 industry-related projects). RIST also selected projects for HPCI strategic programs5 category established by the national government targeting 5 key research fields (8 priority projects, 24 general projects). RIST will also, as needed, accept applications for industry-related trial use in the general-use category.

Uses of the K computer and the Future

Looking ahead, RIKEN's role will continue to include coordination of day-to-day operations of the K computer, but will also expand to encompass various other efforts. In terms of research, RIKEN will forge links through the K computer between computational science and computer science fields and pursue new research that enhances K computer performance and creates a shared foundation to support a wide range of computational science fields. Meanwhile, RIKEN will strive to provide a computational environment for the K computer that is easy for its users to use. RIST, on the other hand, will handle user support, providing consultation services through a help desk and assistance for program improvement.

In cooperation with users from a variety of different computational science fields, RIKEN and RIST will work to translate the K computer's exceptional simulation precision and computational speed into world-class research breakthroughs.

For more information

Advanced Institute for Computational Science

Glossary and Notes

  • 1.
    K computer
    The K computer, jointly developed by RIKEN and Fujitsu, is part of the High-Performance Computing Infrastructure (HPCI) initiative led by Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). "K" comes from the Japanese Kanji letter "Kei" which means ten peta or 10 to the 16th power. The logo for the K computer based on the Japanese character for Kei, which expresses a large gateway, and it is hoped that the system will be a new gateway to computational science.
  • 2.
    TOP500 list:
    The TOP500 list is a project that periodically ranks the 500 fastest supercomputers in the world. The project, begun in 1993, publishes current rankings twice a year (in June and November).
  • 3.
    HPC Challenge
    The HPC Challenge includes a Class 1 contest based on benchmarking performance, and a Class 2 contest based on the level of productivity in real-world use. Class 1 covers four divisions that measure performance in each of four key system aspects (CPU computational performance, memory access performance, network communications performance).
    Global HPL: operating speed in solving large-scale simultaneous linear equations
    Global Random Access: random memory access performance in parallel processing
    EP STREAM (Triad) per system: memory access speed under multiple loads
    Global FFT: total performance of Fast Fourier Transform
  • 4.
    Gordon Bell Prize
    The ACM Gordon Bell Prize, sponsored by the Association of Computing Machinery, is given to encourage developments in parallel computing. The prize is awarded every November at the International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis, to papers that achieve the most outstanding results in hardware and applications development.
  • 5.
    Strategic Programs
    A MEXT enterprise operating from 2011 until 2015 intended to advance Japan's computational-science system and to encourage R&D using the HPCI, which is centered around the K computer, that will support projects in each of a number of fields that can be expected to make significant social or technological breakthroughs and that will require the computational resources of the K computer. The strategic sectors and the strategic institutions that will be central to pursuing these projects are as follows.

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The HPCI strategic programs Sector Institution
Predictive life sciences, medicine, and pharmaceuticals RIKEN
New materials and energy production University of Tokyo's Institute for Solid-State Physics, National Institute of Natural Science's Institute for Molecular Science, Tohoku University's Institute for Materials Research
Predicting global changes to prevent and mitigate natural disasters Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology
Next-generation manufacturing University of Tokyo's Institute of Industrial Science, Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Origins and structure of matter and space University of Tsukuba's Center for Computational Sciences, High Energy Accelerator Research Organization, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan