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Canon Purchased a Supercomputer for ‘No-Prototype’ Product Development

According to Fujitsu, Canon Inc. has just placed an order for one of its ultra-powerful PRIMEHPC FX1000 supercomputers with the goal of turning their product development cycle into a “no-prototype” affair where things like impact, functionality, and airflow tests can be run on CAD designs instead of real products.

It’s no mystery that, thanks in large part to its deep coffers, Sony has taken a very aggressive stance on research and development in the camera sector. For several years, it seemed like you couldn’t go three months without a new alpha-series full-frame or APS-C camera being announced, each one at least a little bit (and often a lot) better than the last.

How established camera makers like Canon and Nikon would try to keep up has been an open question, but for Canon, part of the answer seems is the adoption of a “no-prototype” product development process that will be helped along by a Fujitsu supercomputer.

According to the press release, once it’s arrived at Canon headquarters, the FX1000 “will play a key role in contributing to Canon’s initiative of ‘no-prototype’ product development, delivering enhanced capabilities and scope of applicability of analysis in Canon’s product development process.”

In practice, that means using 3D CAD designs and putting them through detailed simulations to answer questions about everything from functionality, to “impact analysis” from drop testing, to ease-of-manufacturing without actually having to build a prototype. Notably, the system will also work for “airflow analysis”… which might help Canon with some of its overheating concerns.

Canon has previously relied on older Fujitsu supercomputers (the FX10 and FX100) to do some of this work, but the FX1000 will hopefully make “no-prototype product development” a reality by throwing a lot more computing power into the mix. The goal is to have the system operational in the first half of 2021. As for whether or not it’ll have any real world impact on how quickly Canon can design, test, and launch cameras—as opposed to, say, printers—remains to be seen.

(via Canon Rumors)