updated 11:40 am EDT, Thu October 25, 2007
NEC SX-9 Supercomputer
Japan's NEC today introduced the SX-9, a supercomputer it claims is the fastest computer at vector math and one of the world's fastest overall computers. The system includes a new, unnamed processor that emphasizes vectors over a more flexible but potentially slower general-purpose CPU. Just one core is capable of over 102 gigaflops (billion floating-point math operations per second); a single node of 16 CPUs generates up to 1.6 teraflops (trillion operations) while a full cluster of nodes produces 839 teraflops, NEC claims. The SZ-9 is also able to handle especially large data sets with a shared memory of 1TB as well as 128GB per second transfers all processors in the system.
Although faster than past SX systems, the technology is also considerably smaller and easier to run, NEC adds: the use of CPUs made on a 65-nanometer process reduces the cooling and overall size to just a quarter of past systems. A lower power draw also makes the SX-9 more environmentally friendly and less expensive to run, the company says.
NEC intends the supercomputer for large institutions and companies for tasks that can also help the environment, such as modeling weather patterns or engineering nanotechnology. Each system comes with a highly specialized version of UNIX, dubbed SUPER-UX, that can recognize all the processors. Pricing for the SX-9 has not been made public, but customers can buy individual nodes and varying sizes of clusters depending on the tasks they need to run.