Episode 349 – Supercomputing at RIKEN Centre for Computation Science (R-CCS), Japan

Satoshi Matsuoka (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satoshi_Matsuoka) from April 2018 has been the director of Riken Center for Computational Science (R-CCS), the Tier-1 national HPC center for Japan, developing and hosting Japan’s flagship ‘Fugaku’ supercomputer which has become the fastest supercomputer in the world in all four major supercomputer rankings in 2020 and 2021 (Top500, HPCG, HPL-AI, Graph500), along with multitudes of ongoing cutting edge HPC research being conducted, including investigating Post-Moore era computing, especially the future FugakuNEXT supercomputer.

He was the leader of the TSUBAME series of supercomputers that had also received many international acclaims, at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, where he still holds a professor position, to continue his research activities in HPC as well as scalable Big Data and AI.

His longtime contribution was commended with the Medal of Honor with Purple ribbon by his Majesty Emperor Naruhito of Japan in 2022. Other accolades include the Fellow positions in societies/conferences ACM, ISC, and the JSSST; the ACM Gordon Bell Prizes in 2011 & 2021; the IEEE-CS Sidney Fernbach Award in 2014 as well as the IEEE-CS Computer Society Seymour Cray Computer Engineering Award in 2022, both being the highest awards in the field of HPC, and the only individual to receive both awards; the Technical Papers Chair and the Program Chair for ACM/IEEE Supercomputing 2009 and 2013 (SC09 and SC13) respectively as well as many other conference chairs, and the ACM Gordon Bell Prize selection committee chair in 2018.

In this interview, Professor Satoshi Matsuoka shared some of the highlights from his talk at SuperComputingAsia 2023 (Singapore), including the supercomputing developments in Japan, and Fugaku, the largest in Japan and one of the first ‘exascale’ supercomputers of the world.

With applications ranging from manufacturing, disaster prevention to creating new drugs, he noted that supercomputers allow us to investigate the past, and to predict the future.

To give the audience context, Professor compares Fugaku supercomputer to everyday applications such as gaming (create “virtual worlds, but much more in a scientific way”), and smart phones (20 million times more powerful than a smartphone).

In terms of power consumption, it is equivalent to running the Tokyo Disney Resort, and as such, power efficiency is critical in the overall management and operations of Fugaku – especially with carbon neutrality as a key agenda topic today.

Professor Satoshi Matsuoka also touched on cybersecurity and how privacy and anonymisiation are growing areas of focus with the increasing adoption of digital twins in medical sciences.

Wrapping up, he pointed out some short term goals for supercomputing in Japan to realise further synergies with the “IT” industry, and the efforts for the successor of Fugaku, FugakuNEXT, to be deployed around 2029.

Recorded 28th February 2023, 12noon, SuperComputingAsia 2023, Singapore Expo.


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