Successor to Japan's Fugaku computer to have up to 10 times calculation speed

A committee of Japan's science ministry says a successor to the country's Fugaku supercomputer should have up to 10 times its calculation speed, with high AI capability.

The committee put together targets for Japan's new supercomputer on Wednesday.

Fugaku, one of the world's most powerful computers, with more than 440 quadrillion, or 440,000 trillion, calculations per second, came into full operation in 2021.

It has been used in a range of areas, such as predicting bands of heavy rain clouds and simulating movements of airborne droplets containing the coronavirus.

The committee says its successor should have a calculation ability five to 10 times that of Fugaku and realize the world's highest level of AI performance to handle generative AI systems.

The committee also says the developers should not just pursue calculation speed and calls on them to consider introducing graphics processing units, or GPUs, in the successor.

GPUs are said to be effective for learning processes for AI. The committee also says the new machine should be able to make predictions and conduct other functions by combining AI and simulations.

The Riken research institute, which was primarily responsible for Fugaku, has been chosen as the main developer for its successor. The committee also says it hopes the new computer will start operating around 2030 at the latest.

Japan is working hard to make advances in supercomputing as global competition heats up. The United States has already developed a system that can make calculations more than twice fast as Fugaku.

The US has already produced two "exascale" computers. Exascale refers to at least 1 quintillion, or 1 billion-billion, calculations per second. A third exascale computer is expected to start operating in the country this year.

The EU has a plan to build two exascale systems. China is said to be developing at least two supercomputers of that class.