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NEC Corp., effectively driven out of the American supercomputer market, has launched a remote computing service using its SX-4 supercomputer for overseas and domestic users.

NEC said April 15 the new service connects the supercomputer at its Fuchu Plant in Tokyo to the Internet and will enable research and development institutions and manufacturing firms that cannot obtain NEC’s large-scale computers to conduct high-performance scientific analyses and simulations.

NEC’s SX-4 model in Fuchu has 32 central processing units providing a maximum of 64 billion calculations per second and a main memory capacity of 8 gigabytes. The hourly rate for the new service is $100, or approximately 13,000 yen, per CPU, and special discounts are available for service contracts of 100 hours or more, the company said. Currently, NEC charges 2 million yen a month per CPU.

NEC will also provide technical consulting and programming services through its subsidiaries worldwide.

Supercomputers have been used for researching global environmental issues, developing alternative energy resources and car crash simulations. The firm expects to collect 50 million yen to 60 million yen in sales revenue per month from the new service.

NEC was dealt a major setback in September when the U.S. International Trade Commission decided in favor of heavy antidumping duties on Japanese supercomputers. In July 1996, Cray Research Inc. filed an antidumping complaint against NEC with the U.S. Commerce Department, which called for a 454 percent antidumping tariff on NEC supercomputers and duties of 173 percent on Fujitsu Ltd. supercomputers.

“With the ruling, it became essentially impossible to export our supercomputers to the U.S. … We hope to provide support for those who need to use NEC supercomputers for their research,” said Yukio Mizuno, executive adviser of NEC. NEC had received orders for 115 supercomputers as of last month, and it hopes to expand its pool of potential users with the remote computing service.


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