Parties in the US supercomputer dumping case addressed the International Trade Commission yesterday, part of on-going proceedings to determine whether Japanese companies are selling supercomputers to US organizations on the cheap and thereby violating international trade law on fair competition. At stake, says Silicon Graphics Inc, is its entire Cray Research Inc vector supercomputer business, which it says it will be unable to maintain as a profitable concern if the Japanese companies prevail. NEC Corp and Fujitsu Ltd are liable to pay duties on supercomputers shipped into the US if the ITC upholds a ruling by the US Department Of Commerce that the Japanese companies are in violation of its rules. Yesterday SGI’s case took a knock when Bill Buzbee, director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s (NCAR) Scientific Computing Division reportedly told ITC that NCAR’s decision to purchase an NEC SX-4 rather than a Cray system was based upon performance, not price. NEC has been trying to establish that there is no such thing as a definable vector supercomputer market in any case; even Cray offers both vector and parallel technologies. Cray says 51% of existing vector customers want to be able to continue to buy vector products from it. 30% want non-vector systems to replace their existing kit while 18% have made no decision. it said if the ITC rules there has been no dumping, then orders for [Japanese] machines will flood in and pricing will fall to a level set by the Japanese. Cray says that although its future its vector processing architecture will be based on the use of SGI parent’s Mips RISC instruction, that its SN2 technologies, due in 2000 or 2001 will use components that are different and discrete from the other Mips CPU products.
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