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By 21 June 2011 | Categories: news

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The Japanese are back on top after one of their supercomputers, called the “K Computer”, was recently crowned as the most powerful processing device on the planet.

The new top dog is owned by Fujitsu and is capable of performing more than eight quadrillion calculation per second (8 petaflops). The K Computer is short for the word “kei”, which in Japanese means ten quadrillion. Its minders are optimistic that the computer will be able to surpass ten petaflops by 2012.
 
The ranking was made official by the Top 500 list, a database of the most powerful computers in the world. The list is revised each June and November by researchers at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, the University of Tennessee and the University of Mannheim in Germany.

This is the first time Japan is back in the top spot for supercomputers after its Earth Simulator was dethroned in 2004. The title was previously held by the Chinese Tianhe-1A, but the improved K computer is now capable of three times as many calculations as the Chinese contender. The monster machine is also more powerful than the next five supercomputers on the list combined.

The supercomputer is housed at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) in Kobe, Japan, and engineers are planning to add an additional 100 000 cores to the K in the next year. The machine already sports some 68 544 central processing units (CPUs), each with eight cores.

When the K computer is completed in 2012 it will be capable of achieving performance of ten petaflops, by far the highest in the world of computer science. The computer will be used in a variety of scientific fields, ranging from global climate research to meteorology, disaster prevention and medicine.

The K was built in Japan from the ground up in partnership with Fujitsu, with everything from research and development to manufacturing taking place in-house.

Time will tell how long the 93% efficient K computer will stay at the top of the supercomputer rankings, but given its planned upgrades it should be some time. No word yet on when it's expected to become sentient.

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