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NEC's supercomputer sits by your side

A version of the SX-8 can calculate 16 billion operations per second. Surprisingly, it's small enough to fit under a desk.

Japan's NEC announced a version of its SX-8 vector operation supercomputer that can calculate 16 billion floating point operations per second but is small enough to sit under a desk. The new SX-8i is slated to ship in February 2006 with a price tag of $109,000 for a baseline model. Measuring 118 inches high by 28 inches wide by 28 inches deep, the SX-8i runs on a single-chip vector processor and supports a built-in hard drive with a maximum capacity of 146GB.

Vector systems are well-suited for mathematical tasks that crop up often in scientific and technical calculations. A collection of vector systems hooked together to work in parallel is what makes up the Earth Simulator, an NEC machine that ranks fourth on a list of the 500 fastest computers. NEC said it hopes to ship 300 of the new systems over the next three years to companies that specialize in aeronautics, civil engineering and automotive design.