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Japanese Supercomputer Evolution

In the beginning there were only a couple of Cray-1s installed in Japan, and until 1983 there were no Japanese-produced supercomputers. The first models were announced in 1983. Naturally there had been prototypes earlier (like the Fujitsu F230-75 APU produced in two copies in 1978) but Fujitsu's VP-200 and Hitachi's S-810 were the first officially announced versions. NEC announced its SX series slightly later. The last decade has completely changed the scene. About three generations of machines have been produced by each of the domestic manufacturers and model improvements have also been offered during the life-span of those machines. During the last ten years about 300 supercomputer systems have been shipped and installed in Japan, and a whole infrastructure of supercomputing has been established. All major universities have supercomputers, many of the large industrial companies and research centres as well.

Based on the success of the Cray-1 and the CDC Cyber 205, the Japanese decided in the late seventies to start producing their own vector-based supercomputers which were initially oriented towards parallel pipelines featuring multiple floating-point units always governed by one control processor. With the advent of the latest generation of systems these supercomputers have added the dimension of multiprocessing and even distributed memory parallel processing. The change logically follows from the fact that only computing problems with long vectors and the right mix of floating-point instructions could expect to move towards peak performance in the early versions of these supercomputers. Multiprocessing adds a dimension of versatility to the hardware, but the price to pay is added complexity in the software requiring the basic operating system, the compilers, the libraries, and the applications to be made aware of this architectural feature.
Tue Nov 14 15:13:46 PST 1995