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November 8, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

NEC Corp is claiming that its new SX-4 Series of scalable parallel vector supercomputers are the most powerful in the world – but don’t all rush at once: deliveries don’t start until December next year. The new SX-4 Series is offered in compact, single-node and multi-node models rated at up to 1 TFLOPS peak performance. Entry-level Compact systems are offered in one-to-four processor configurations and are rated at 8 GFLOPS perk with 64G-bytes per second bandwidthThe SX-4 Series Single-node models scale from four to 32 processors providing 8 GFLOPS to 64 GFLOPS peak performance and up to 8Gb of shared Synchronous Static RAM main memory, which accepts an address and produces a data element every clock cycle. The top-of-the-line SX-4 Series Multi-node configurations can be scaled from two to 16 nodes of up to 32 processors each in a single system image with peak performance ranging up to 1 TFLOPS. Substantial parts of the machines are built in CMOS. They combine a shared and distributed memory architecture and use a crossbar network for high speed internode communication. Each node has a fibre optic connection to the crossbar switch and can transfer data at 8G-bytes per second, more than 100 times faster than the IBM SP2, NEC says. Latency is constant between nodes, no matter how many nodes are coupled into the system. Nodes can also be interconnected more cheaply using HIPPI channel coupling. The machines run Unix System V with Berkeley Software Distribution extensions and NEC-developed supercomputer enhancements; languages available are C, C++ and Fortran 77 and Fortran 90. The input-output subsystem supports from 1.6G-bytes per second to 76.8Gbps aggregate bandwidth via HIPPI and SCSI channels. All models support IEEE, Cray Research Inc and IBM Corp floating point data formats fully implemented in the hardware, NEC says. Launched in the US and Europe as well as Japan, the SX-4 Series starts at $380,000 for an entry-level SX-4 Series Compact Model Ce single processor with 256Mb main memory. High-end configurations rent for $6m a month. NEC says it is hoping to place 250 of the new machines over three years.

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