We have discussed the evolution and present status of the Japanese supercomputer market and Japanese computer development mostly from the point of view of the LINPACK benchmark and the TOP500 report.
The Japanese users as well as the Japanese computer architects continue to utilize vector processing as an important tool to achieve high performance. They do not, however, continue any obsolete methods and systems because of a lack of imagination. Instead they try to integrate vector processing and scalable parallel computing into a novel computer architecture in a very innovative way. This is done at the same time by computer architects and applications developers. The co-development of the Numerical Wind Tunnel between the Japanese National Aerospace Laboratory and Fujitsu is a major achievement in supercomputer innovation, and deserves the highest respect.
The vector parallel computer architecture has already a very high impact on the Japanese supercomputer market. We can expect that this architecture will domininate the Japanese market very soon. It remains to be seen, however, if the Japanese manufacturers can develop the necessary marketing power, to also have significant impact on other markets.
Massively parallel computers other than the vector parallel systems do not play a major role in Japan from the point of view of the TOP500 list. Both users and manufacturers, however, are thoroughly investigating these systems in their research laboratories. We have not discussed these developments here, because from the TOP500 point of view they are not very visible. MPP systems are in use in several places and with the growing maturity of the software, we can foresee the Japanese vendors to expand beyond the early prototypes of their own MPP machines, such as Cenju-3 and AP-1000.
One of the first Japanese manufacturers with a commercial MPP offering is Hitachi with their newly announced SR2000 system, but it is expected to take several years before the Japanese computer industry as a whole will offer commercial products that can compete effectively with the American vendors like Cray, Intel, IBM and others. These companies with a surprisingly low MPP profile in Japan until now, have meanwhile the chance to gain ground in the Japanese supercomputing market with their parallel systems.
The Japanese will undoubtedly continue to be well represented in the list of the most powerful computer installations in the world, especially with regards to the accumulated Rmax . In any case, Japan as the economic giant it has now become, will surely not stand back when addressing the computing needs of its industries, research centres and academic communities.