Japan takes top spot in supercomputer race

The Land of the Rising Sun, Japan currently owns the world’s fastest supercomputer.

Dubbed “K Computer”, which is a bit of a misprint of a Radiohead album cover, the beast is three times faster than a Chinese rival that previously held the top slot.

Jack Dongarra, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, who compiles the supercomputer league tables, told the New York Times that K was a “giant leap forward” in computer speed.

The beast was built by Fujitsu and runs from the Riken Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Kobe, Japan.

He said that it was jolly impressive and a lot more powerful than the other computers on the block.

K could make make 8.2 quadrillion calculations per second, or 8.2 petaflops per second. You can get the same effect if you link a million desktop computers.

K is made up of 672 cabinets and uses electricity to power nearly 10,000 homes at a cost of around $10 million annually.

The plan is to increase K to 800 cabinets which will boost the speed which already exceeds that of its five closest competitors.

Apparently K is nothing to do with Radiohead, but is actually short for the Japanese world “Kei,” which means 10 quadrillion. This is the goal for the number of calculations the computer can perform per second.

The previous leader, China’s Tianhe-1A supercomputer, at the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin, China, is now in second place with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s computer in the US collecting the bronze medal.

It is not certain how long K will hold the top spot. Dongarra said a computer called Blue Waters, being developed at the University of Illinois may rival or beat it.