Fujitsu, JAEA unveil new supercomputer

Fujitsu said that it has completed joint development of a new supercomputer system with the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), which can be used in various areas of atomic energy research including nuclear fusion simulations.

According to Fujitsu, the new supercomputer is a hybrid system that consists of three computational server systems such as large-scale parallel computation unit, application development unit for the next generation supercomputer and SMP Server (shared memory server).

Fujitsu said that the large-scale parallel computation unit, which forms the core of the new system, is able to deliver a high-performance parallel computing environment through the use of the company's new blade server Primergy BX900, in a configuration of 2,134 nodes (4,268 CPUs, 17,072 cores) connected using the new InfiniBand QDR high-speed interconnect technology.

In addition, the NxG code development unit uses a 300-node FX1 server cluster and the shared memory server uses a single-node SPARC Enterprise M9000 Unix server. There is also a 36-unit Eternus DX80 disk array storage system.

All three server systems run Fujitsu's high-performance computing middleware Parallelnavi, which delivers a common development and execution environment and unified operations management, the company said.

The company said that by mounting two InfiniBand QDR cards in each blade server one-way data transfers as fast as 8GBps can be achieved. The Primergy BX900 blade server is suitable for a range of applications, including enterprise computing systems, server consolidation and the building of cloud environments.

Toshio Hirayama, director of the centre for computational science and e-Systems of the JAEA, said: "Supercomputers are indispensible for the kind of scientific computations required in nuclear energy research and development. For that reason, I'm confident that the new supercomputer system will make it possible to bring calculations that had been impractically large within reach. By leveraging this new system, we intend to develop codes for the next-generation supercomputer that will be deployed in 2012."

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.