RIKEN to Operate Fugaku for COVID-19 Research Ahead of Schedule

Since 2014, RIKEN, a comprehensive natural science institute in Japan, has been working jointly with Fujitsu, a Japanese company that is one of the largest IT service providers in the world, to design and build the supercomputer Fugaku. When Fugaku becomes fully operational in 2021, it will help support scientific research and further the pursuit of what Japan refers to as “Society 5.0,” an effort to leverage the social and economic benefits of advanced technology in every corner of society.

Now, RIKEN is making the currently-installed portion of Fugaku available a full year earlier than planned to help dramatically speed up COVID-19 research efforts (including development of treatment and vaccination options). Molex’s expertise with backplane solutions is helping to make this accelerated schedule possible.

This advanced computer system was developed with support from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). When installation of Fugaku is completed next year, it will house over 150,000 high-performance central processing units (CPUs) that will support computationally complex research in numerous topics, including disaster prevention, drug discovery, and artificial intelligence. Every one of these CPUs must be carefully and reliably interconnected to complete the installation, but these same connections are just as critical at a smaller scale when offering part of Fugaku’s computing capabilities as a resource for pandemic research.

A collaborative relationship to deliver critical components

Molex is supplying the backplane cable content — the backbone for connecting circuit boards in a computer — necessary for proper operation of Fugaku. Our high-speed solutions are designed to accommodate increased bandwidth and density as well as optimal data rates, all of which become especially critical as data processing demands increase. For Fujitsu, we are manufacturing 30 standard products and eight custom designed connectors and components. Every individual part will help make Fugaku one of the most advanced computing systems in the world, outperforming the K computer, its predecessor that was retired in late 2019, by offering up to 100 times the application performance.

Molex’s engineering teams in the U.S. and Japan remained committed to meeting rigorous design and production requirements at scale despite the tight timeline. Our production facilities also worked tirelessly to supply needed components and remain compliant to necessary audits while targeting an accelerated timeline. Most importantly, the relationship fostered by Molex’s global teams left us well prepared to anticipate demand, identify potential capacity bottlenecks, and work in advance to ensure an undisrupted supply of our critical cables and connectors.

Looking Ahead

Molex continues to support Fujitsu as the currently-installed portion of Fugaku’s supercomputing power comes online and will supply key components that allow for full installation and implementation in the future.  With both its current and potential capabilities, Fugaku can supply the supercomputing power essential for speeding development and testing of a vaccine for the Coronavirus. A safe and effective vaccine may serve as the cornerstone for finally moving past the pandemic into improved global health and economic recovery.

Learn more about what we’re doing to overcome COVID-19. And, for more information related to conducting COVID-19 research with Fugaku, visit RIKEN.