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2 orders for NEC's supercomputer

Japan's Ministry of Education and the French aerospace agency are the first to buy the SX-5 supercomputer.

NEC has scored 2 orders for its new supercomputers, said to be the fastest in the industry.

NEC has obtained an order worth more than $6.9 million for its new SX-5 supercomputer from Japan's Ministry of Education, according to Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's largest business daily.

This was NEC's first order for the SX-5, which it began offering in June.

NEC has also received an order for SX-5 series and SX-4 series machines from the French aerospace research agency, Office National d'Etudes et de Aerospatiales (ONERA). NEC did not disclose the price of the sale, the first order from outside Japan.

NEC has been concentrating on sales outside the U.S. ever since the U.S. government ruled last year that Japanese computer makers were dumping supercomputers on the U.S. market.

Japan's Ministry of Education will pay about $138,500 per month in a five-year lease for the machine, servers, other peripherals and maintenance services. The supercomputer will be installed at the Institute for Molecular Science, part of the Okazaki National Research Institute, in January 1999. The ministry plans to make the machine available to scientists engaged in molecular research around the country.

The French order consists of one SX-5/16A mid-range model of NEC's SX-5 series, and one SX-4/14A, a mid-range model of its SX-4 series. The SX-4 model will be shipped at the end of this month and the SX-5 will be shipped next August.

Both supercomputers will be installed at the aerospace agency's headquarters in Chatilon, a Paris suburb. The agency's aerospace research includes national and European programs such as the Concorde and Airbus aircraft, NEC said.

The SX-5 can reach vector processing speeds of up to four teraflops (one trillion floating-point operations per second), NEC said.

In the SX-5's maximum configuration, its speed is four teraflops and its main memory four terabytes, the latter eight times larger than that of its predecessor, the SX-4.

Reuters contributed to this report.