Photo/Illutration The Fugaku supercomputer in Kobe on March 9 (Yoshinori Mizuno)

Japan's Fugaku, the world's fastest supercomputer, currently utilized in research to combat the novel coronavirus, ramped up from partial to full-scale operations on March 9.

Fugaku, jointly developed by the Riken research institute and leading computer maker Fujitsu Ltd., was scheduled to go into full operation on April 1, but things went more smoothly than forecast.

The supercomputer had already been put into partial operations to study preventive measures against the virus. It will also be utilized for a wide range of other fields, including industrial applications.

In fiscal 2021, Fugaku will be used to conduct research to predict torrential rainstorms and to develop new drugs, in addition to work on anti-coronavirus measures. It is also expected to be utilized in industrial fields.

When Fugaku's predecessor, the K supercomputer, started operations, businesses could only utilize about 5 percent of its total calculation capacity.

But with Fugaku, they can now use around 15 percent since it began operating and that usage could rise in the future.

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association is trying to find new ways to develop improved cars faster and at less expense with Fugaku.

Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. is planning to use Fugaku for research to study molecular structures of rubber materials and to stop tires from deteriorating.

Fugaku and its developers are also attracting more attention from foreign entities.

Fujitsu announced that it has received an order to make a supercomputer system for Portugal.

The system, which will use Fugaku’s central processing unit, is expected to be used in academic institutions in Portugal and other European countries.

Fugaku was listed No. 1 in the world on the Top 500 supercomputer calculation speed ranking last June and November with a calculation speed of more than 400 quadrillion calculations per second.

Its computational capabilities are about 100 times higher than the K supercomputer.

Fugaku cost about 130 billion yen ($1.2 billion) to develop, including about 110 billion yen that was paid for at national expense.