Fujitsu has won an order from Singapore to build the most powerful computer in Southeast Asia.
The petaflop-class machine is intended for what will be the city-state’s first national supercomputer center, and Singapore’s government expects it to attract private companies and research institutions.
Fujitsu will build the supercomputer from a cluster of roughly 1,200 PC servers linked in a high-speed network and capable of performing 1 quadrillion floating-point operations per second, or 1 petaflop. The order is worth 45.2 million Singapore dollars ($31.8 million).
The Japanese company will install the system in February at the National Supercomputer Centre, or NSCC, which Singapore is creating as a joint effort among the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and others.
The company also will operate and maintain the system for the first three years and provide training and resolve issues for users. These after-care services will be handled by a team of local Fujitsu employees and experts dispatched from Japan.
Supercomputers built from clusters of PC servers are difficult to differentiate in terms of cost and performance. Fujitsu hopes to distinguish itself by creating an environment that researchers find easy to use, giving the supercomputer center a high utilization rate.
The NSCC envisions extending the performance of its supercomputer system to 3 petaflops, and Fujitsu hopes to be in the running for this eventual expansion as well.
Singapore’s machine will be far less powerful than Japan’s 10-petaflop K supercomputer, but it will rank 80th globally per the TOP500 project that ranks computer systems. The K, which ranks fourth, cost 110 billion yen ($890 million) to develop, and a machine of comparable power would cost tens of billions of yen to build today.
The number-crunching capabilities of a computer like the K are required for only a limited range of tasks, like weather simulations and genome analysis. The new 1 petaflop supercomputer will have sufficient power for research in fields such as pharmaceuticals, next-generation materials and data communications.
The experience Fujitsu gains from installing and running the supercomputer could help the company win orders in other countries throughout Asia. The use of supercomputers traditionally has centered on the U.S., Europe and Japan, but more nations are installing their own systems. India plans to spend 45 billion rupees ($680 million) over seven years to install supercomputers in more than 70 locations.