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Japanese Supercomputer Installations

The Japanese supercomputer installations, including the low-end Fujitsu VP-systems, are believed by now to exceed 200. The TOP500, limited to [tex2html_wrap2076] values exceeding 472 Mflop/s, contains 106 of them. In the following summary they are discussed by reviewing the following main categories: Universities, Government Research Institutes, Automobile Industry, and Electronics Industry.


The seven major National (previously `Imperial') Universities were amongst the first sites to install Japanese supercomputers. A consolidated effort of collaboration with the three Japanese manufacturers was initiated and one observes that Tokyo and Hokkaido Universities have since the beginning been faithful to Hitachi, Nagoya, Kyushu and Kyoto Universities to Fujitsu, and Osaka and Tohoku Universities to NEC.

All these Universities have relatively large computer systems by Japanese standards. The three Fujitsu-influenced Universities all have VP-2600 systems. Tokyo University enjoys a top of the range Hitachi S3800/480 whereas Hokkaido still employs a S-820/80 installed in 1989. Osaka has a uniprocessor NEC SX-3 in use and Tohoku is about to get an upgrade to a top-of-the-range NEC SX-3/44R installed as part of the governmental supercomputer deployment program. It should also be noted that the Research Institute for Iron, Steel and other Metals at Tohoku University will be getting a three- processor Hitachi S-3800.

Nevertheless the well-publicised installation of a Cray Y-MP/8 at the Institute of Fluid Science in Tohoku in 1992 signalled a more flexible attitude that has continued since then. Based on this new acquisition strategy a TMC CM-5/32 is now installed in Tokyo University's Medical Lab and a CM-5/16 in Kyushu University. Additionally the Chemical Research Lab at Kyoto University possesses a Cray Y-MP/2E.

Although in a somewhat more modest way, seven other universities are present in the TOP500. The Nihon and Senshu Universities employ Hitachi S-820/80 systems. Tokai University possesses a uni-processor NEC SX-3, Aoyama Gakuin University a NEC SX-2 whereas Meiji University now has a Fujitsu VP-2200 as a replacement for the ETA 10-P system originally in use. The installation of a 30 processor VPP-500 at the University of Tsukuba will be the first installation of this new Fujitsu computer generation at a Japanese University .

Hiroshima University has an Intel XP/A4 installed but details of its use are not known.

The role of the university supercomputer installations in Japan is similar to what is seen in the Western world, i.e. provision of services to the University faculties and possible partnerships for the development of new applications software in collaboration with the computer vendors thanks the in-house easy access to academic resources.

Governmental Research Laboratories

The list of governmental Research Lab employing large supercomputers is quite impressive and is extending itself further thanks to the new governmental initiative for supercomputer deployment.

As already mentioned, the National Aerospace Laboratory is the un-contested leader of the TOP500 with its 140-processor `Numeric Wind Tunnel'. NAL is also equipped with one VP-2600 and is about to receive a second one (as an upgrade from a VP-400E). It will also deviate slightly from its Fujitsu-only past by acquiring a Cray Y/M92 and an Intel Paragon XP/330. The enormous computing capacity installed in this Lab can be seen as commensurate to Japan's ambitions in space exploration in the future.

JAERI, the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute, operates two VP-2600 systems as well as one NEC SX-3/41R. This institute, which is linked to Japan's peaceful nuclear reactor program, is blessed with a computing capacity in correspondence with the importance of its mission. In the same context should be mentioned the two VP-2600 computers installed in at the Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation which is now slated to get the first Cray T3D system in Japan.

Several of the Japanese Research Labs, operate relative large NEC supercomputers. The National Institute of Fusion Science employs a brand- new SX-3/24R in its research and The National Institute for Environmental Studies employs a SX-3/14. The National Institute for Molecular Science in Okazaki operates a Hitachi S-820 today and is scheduled to receive a three processor SX-3R later this fiscal year.

The Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute In the Kansai Science City has taken a leading role in the deployment of parallel computing technology. It acquired a CM/2 in 1990 for use in its Auditory and Visual Perception Research Lab. The Institute has become one of the leaders in deploying Massively Parallel systems in Japan due to its huge needs for s development and execution of parallel algorithms linked to speech recognition, visualisation and other related human-oriented interface systems. It has more recently added a CM-5/64 and is in the process of installing a KSR-1/96.

A Hitachi S-820 system can be found in the National Laboratory for High- Energy Physics (KEK) in Tsukuba where the vector processing capacity to demanded by the computational requirements of their theoretical physicists. The Disaster Prevention Research Institute possesses a Cray Y-MP/2E for its earthquake simulation programs. The National Space Observatory outside Tokyo continues to exploit a VP-200 that was installed in 1989, whereas the Institute of Space and Astronomical Science who has been using a VP-200E since 1988 should receive a 7-processor VPP-500 in this.

Quite an interesting deviation from Japan's traditional faithfulness to domestic suppliers is seen in the list of computers in use in the Japanese 6th generation computer project, now called the Real World Computing Project. RWCP has equipped itself with a 64-processor CM-5 as well as a 66-processor XP/S5 from Intel that will be used for assisting the construction of a large parallel processing system especially designed for this project Equally interesting is the announcement of two DEC-MPP (Maspar) installations in this fiscal year; one will be installed at the National Cancer Research Institute in Tokyo and the other at the Institute for Agrobiological Resources in Tsukuba. Both systems will have 16,384 processors.

Automobile Manufacturers

The Japanese automobile industry has been unique in its investment in foreign large supercomputers, namely Cray systems. This is a direct result of the necessity to deploy software packages such as PAM-crash in automobile crash simulation and certification, but the Cray systems have also been appreciated for their good system balance. At the top of the automobile manufacturers' list we find Mitsubishi Motor Company with a Y-MP/C92A and a Y-MP4 followed by Nissan Motors and Toyota each with a six-processor Y-MP8. Honda Research possesses a three-processor Y-MP. Mazda Motor Corporation has installed two Y-MP/2E systems and Isuzu Motor and Daihatsu have each installed one of these more affordable Cray computers. In the list of non-Cray supercomputers installed in the car industry, a variety of domestic systems can be observed. Suzuki Motor Corporation uses a S-820/60, Mazda has a NEC SX-2A, Toyota Motors outside Nagoya is using a VP-2200 and Toyota Central Research Lab has installed a SX-3/14R front- ended by an IBM 3090. Hino Motor possesses an entry-level SX-3. NEC's dominance in this list is probably explained by the availability of the Radius application package as an alternative to PAM-crash. In addition to pure car manufacturing companies one also finds Toyo Rubber Tyre Company with a recent S-3600/160 and Sumitomo Rubber Industries with an entry-level SX-3.

Electronics Manufacturers

The complexity of modern electronics equipment (including computers !) have brought supercomputers to all the large Japanese electronics manufacturers. The long list of in-house supercomputers in use by NEC, Fujitsu and Hitachi will not be discussed in detail, but it is relevant to focus a bit on the other corporations that have taken supercomputers in use for circuit simulation, CAD/CAM and many other applications. It is worth noting the large diversity of computer vendors inside the electronics sector, although Cray seems once again to have a leading edge The variety is either due to a larger availability of adequate simulation packages from all the vendors or a correspondingly higher degree of in-house developed software making the choice of a given hardware platform less critical.

Sharp and SONY have both acquired a Fujitsu VP-2200 for their product development and research whereas Sanyo Electric uses a NEC uniprocessor SX-3 Toshiba is using a four-processor Cray Y-MP8, Mitsubishi Electric uses a three-processor Y-MP4, Nippon Denso (Electric Equipment) has settled for a two-processor version, whereas Matsushita Electric possesses a fully equipped Y-MP/4E as well as the only Japanese nCube system included in the TOP500.

NTT is still using the Cray-2 acquired in 1988, but its X/MP-22, in faithful use since 1987 has been discontinued. The Cray-2 is being used in high-speed communications tests based on HIPPI and FDDI with a 2.4 Gigabit per second optical link.

Next: Future Outlook Up: Supercomputing in Japan Previous: Application software
Fri Jun 3 12:02:18 MDT 1994