The name Cray might not sound familiar to a lot of us, but Cray Inc. has a history that extends way back to 1972 when Seymour Cray founded Cray Research.
The company brought the Cray-1 system to the world, which, back then, boasted a world-record speed of 160 million floating point operations per second and an 8 MB (1 million word) main memory. They also happened to be the ones who implemented the refrigeration system using Freon, in order to keep the intense heat that the computer generated, under control.
The company continued to grow through the decades as fast as technology advanced and, in its fifth decade of existence, Cray is one of the strongest names in the world of supercomputing.
Recently, the company announced that one of its XC50 supercomputers have been purchased by the Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI).
Why does the Japanese railway industry need a supercomputer, you might ask?
We have to remind you first of all, that Japan has the most advanced rail infrastructure in the world and they plan to keep it that way, because, for them, every minute truly counts.
To begin with, the XC50 has 815 teraflops, which allows it to perform processing speeds five times faster and allows the types of railway investigations in the areas the researchers are interested in to be analyzed more accurately.
The supercomputer is air-cooled, it has an HPC-optimized Aries system that interconnects to every data center and features five cabinets, powered by 524 18-core Intel Xeon Gold processors running at 2.7 GHz. In being paired with the Cray ClusterStor L300, which is a high performance storage delivery, the system is bound to deliver balanced and sustained performance for all the RTRI requirements.
The researchers are interested in enhancing simulation techniques as well as in-depth analysis of railway-specific circumstances and overall improving evaluation methods.
“With the Cray XC50, we have the high-performance computing power we need to drive, positive and significant research outcomes for RTRI. In addition, we are applying our expertise to continue research in enhancing the safety and technology of railways throughout Japan. By fully utilizing this powerful system, we will be able to generate game-changing insights that will fuel one of the world’s most advanced railway systems”
– Dr. Norimichi Kumagai, RTRI President
It’s not the first time the RTRI is collaborating with Cray though – back in 2013, the Institute made use of the XC30 and CS300 systems in order to help them model the behaviors of railway system components in various fields.
RTRI combined the systems into one supercomputing powerhouse and, back then it has a peak performance of over 100 teraflops, while the Sonexion Luste system included 220 terabytes of capacity and 10GB per second of applications performance.
Mamoru Nakano, President of Cray Japan, has said about the continuation of their collaboration that –
“We are proud to continue our work with RTRI, a long-standing customer in Japan, and we are pleased the Institute will continue to utilize the power of Cray supercomputers toward the development of railway technologies.”
The cost of the supercomputer was not revealed, but all this power must definitely come with a heavy price. Nonetheless, if Japan looks to even further improve their already brilliantly well-balanced railway system, we’re sure they will most likely make exceptional progress.