Kathy Gibson is at Fujitsu ActivateNow – High-performance computing is leading the fight against Covid-19.

Research around the novel coronavirus is just one of the tasks being performed by the Fugaku supercomputer, jointly developed by Riken and Fujitsu and ranked as the most powerful in the TOP500 list of the world’s supercomputers.

Satoshi Matsuoka, director of the national flagship HPC research centre of Japan, Riken RCS, says the project to build Fugaku was undertaken over 10 years.

“It was a moonshot project, with many divergent and contradictory purposes. But we succeeded in building it.”

The supercomputer gives Riken about 100-times more speed that it had previously. “We expect Fugaku to serve the country’s needs and to advance IT as a whole for Japan,” Matsuoka says.

The supercomputer will be used in a variety of applications, including pharmaceuticals, energy and materials.

“One very important application is the fight against Covid-19,” Matsuoka says. “We have quickly stepped up this programme and, in less that a month, are getting stellar results. Scientists can now access resources that almost match the rest of Japan’s supercomputing capacity.”

One of the projects that Fugaku is being used for is analysing existing drugs, and some of these have been found to be useful in the fight against Covid-19. “If proved to be effective, we could have access to cheap and available drugs that could serve to treat the virus and also to help prevent it.”

Scientists are also discovering ways to mitigate the virus by analysing droplets. “These results are used to provide guidelines to industry and to the government” Matsuoka says.

“We are very happy and privileged to think the reason Japan’s infection rate is so low could be at least partially because of the work done by Riken.”

He adds that Fujitsu has one of the few design teams in the world able to design Fukagu with its levels of reliability, efficiency and performance.

Toshiyuki Shimizu, principal engineer in charge of Fugaku project at Fujitsu, comments that the co-design of Fugaku in collaboration with the researchers is behind the success of the project.

The Fukagu supercomputer has a LINPACK performance of 415.53 PFLOPS (petaflops) and a computing efficiency ratio of 80,87%. It scored 13 400 teraflops on the High Performance Conjugate Gradient and 1,421 teraflops of the HPL-AI ranking.