Fujitsu’s Fugaku supercomputer helping fight COVID-19 in Japan




Image: Fujitsu

Japanese scientific research institute RIKEN is home to the world’s top supercomputer, with Fugaku being jointly developed with Fujitsu.

Fugaku is expected to be in full operation soon, but it is being used already by researchers in Japan for various matters, one of which is the country’s fight against COVID-19.

“We anticipate Fugaku to be used for a wide variety of applications, including those of high concern in the general public around medical and pharmaceuticals, disaster and environmental, energy and production … also industries from materials to general manufacturing,” RIKEN Center for Computational Science director Satoshi Matsuoka said.

“But one very important area there is how we fight against COVID-19 and we have quickly stood up this program, COVID-19 program, even as Fugaku was being built, and, in fact, we did this in less than one month.”

Speaking as part of Fujitsu’s digital ActivateNow conference on Tuesday night, Matsuoka said the program has been receiving “stellar results”, mostly due to the computing resources available to scientists matching the entire high-performance compute capacity in Japan.

“For example, we’re finding some existing drugs, drugs that have approved for other purposes like heart conditions or high blood pressure or parasites to be immensely useful against COVID-19,” he said.

“So if these are proven to be effective, then we may have these antiviral drugs — it’s very cheap, very low side effect, and can be used to not only cure COVID-19 but serve as preventive drugs to be pre-administered to people at high risk.”

Matsuoka said RIKEN teams are also working on mitigating COVID-19 transmission through detailed droplet analysis.

“We’re finding that masks are very effective, also finding shields are effective in the workplace,” he said.

He said these findings are being used to provide guidelines by industry, but also by