Japan cancels contract, kicks out 4th fastest supercomputer amid fraud charges
The future of Japan’s innovative trio of startups – PEZY Computing, ExaScaler, and UltraMemory – is now at risk. ExaScaler has announced on April 13 that Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) has terminated their contract. Gyoukou, the world’s fourth fastest supercomputer on the current TOP500 list, has suspended operations. ExaScaler has been ordered to remove the system as soon as possible and restore the previous system in its place. This news comes just a few months after the Japan Times reported that the president of PEZY Computing, Motoaki Saito, was arrested for allegedly defrauding the government.
Gyoukou has been installed at JAMSTEC Yokohama Institute for Earth Sciences since May of last year. The system had a peak performance of 19,135.8 TFLOPS while consuming only 1,350 kW for an efficiency of 14.173 GFLOPS/W – ranking 5th in the world on the Green500 only beaten by NVIDIA’s own supercomputer and three other smaller PEZY-based supercomputers.
Powering Gyoukou are 10,000 of PEZY’s PEZY-SC2 chips, a 2,048-core many-core processor along with 1250 Xeon D-1571 processors. At 19,860,000 cores, the system currently holds highest core-count record.
It’s currently unclear where Gyoukou is going to be relocated to but ExaScaler hopes to get the system back up and running this year.
TCI Funding Withdrawn
In addition to the Gyoukou contract termination, Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) has announced that they withdraw their 6 billion Yen funding which has been allocated to the development of ThruChip Interface (TCI) and TCI-based DRAM interface which has enabled the SC2 chip to reach bandwidths of up to 2.1 TB/s. ExaScaler is required to return the 5.2 billion Yen which has already been paid by JST. JST cites concerns over the premise of actual TCI adaptation as the reason for terminating the funding however the details remain vague.
The termination of funding is disappointing but ExaScaler has stated that TCI is one of their core technologies and research and development is expected to continue. Additionally, PEZY has also made a public statement reaffirming their intention to continue work on their next-generation chip which is expected to be the 8,192-core PEZY-SC3 planned for TSMC’s 7nm.