S'pore, Fujitsu eye petascale computing

Singapore's Institute of High Performance Computing inks two-year deal with Japanese vendor to develop applications for petascale computing.

SINGAPORE--The country's lead government arm for developing research and development (R&D)--the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)--through its Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC) arm, announced Tuesday a partnership with Fujitsu to co-produce applications using the latter's supercomputer technologies.

Company executives said at a media briefing here that the collaboration will allow researchers from both sides to tap Fujitsu's Primergy BX900-based supercomputer system to develop scalable algorithms and software for petascale computing in the areas of computational fluid dynamics and materials science.

Housed at A*STAR's Computational Resource Centre, the Primergy supercomputer system is the first such installation outside of Japan, and is Southeast Asia's fastest supercomputer, according to a joint statement.

Petascale computing, the companies said, refers to sophisticated supercomputers that have the capability to undertake a quadrillion calculations per second. This allows researchers to better conduct "complex simulations without the need for excess computational resources", leading to savings in overhead costs and time.

Globally, the top supercomputing system dubbed Jaguar can process 1.75 petaflops, according to the latest Top500 rankings.

"Petascale computing is the new frontier in high-performance computing and will open avenues to solve complex problems in the physical and life sciences, as well as engineering," Raj Thampuram, IHPC's executive director, said in the press statement.

Masahiko Yamada, president of Fujitsu's technical computing solutions unit, said the company's supercomputer can be utilized to conduct R&D simulations during the manufacturing of products such as drugs. According to Yamada, the system has the ability to product a "highly accurate simulation of a whole product composed of many components".

Speaking to ZDNet Asia on the sidelines of the briefing, Masaki Kajiyama, president of Singapore operations in Fujitsu Asia, noted the "courtship" between IHPC and Fujitsu was "mutual" and that the idea of a partnership was first mooted in 2007. This later led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2008, before culminating in the announcement of the three-year collaboration.

On why Fujitsu entered into the new venture, Kajiyama explained: "It's simple--while Fujitsu has the computing capabilities and infrastructure, the researchers and scientists from IHPC has the necessary computing knowledge and expertise to develop applications for commercial use in the near future."

He added that it was "hard to predict" when the collaboration would be able to produce commercially available products as that would be dependent on several factors, such as "market conditions" and the viability of the market segments that the applications are developed for.