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NEC Corp. aims to double its share of the global supercomputer market in the next four years by increasing sales in Europe, a market where industry leaders IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. may be easier to challenge.

Japan’s largest personal computer maker will increase to 5 percent its share of the supercomputer market by 2014, Fumihiko Hisamitsu, general manager of NEC’s high-performance computing division, said at the company’s Tokyo headquarters Monday.

NEC’s plan to expand in Europe mirrors a strategy announced this year by rival Fujitsu Ltd., which said in May it aims to tap rising demand in Germany, France and the U.K. to increase its market share to 10 percent from 2.2 percent in the next five years. U.S.-based IBM and HP control about 80 percent of the market, according to supercomputer-ranking Web site Top500.

“The barrier to entry in Europe is lower than in the U.S., where there’s a ‘buy American’ mentality,” Hisamitsu said. “There’s a potential for us to grow our business there.”

While supercomputers that fill entire buildings are still mainly found in military and research labs, smaller systems are used by companies to design cars, test drugs and do other tasks that require massive calculating power. The world market for high performance computers, including machines that cluster standard servers, will expand 10 percent annually through 2014, Hisamitsu said.

NEC, which took the world record for computer speed with its Earth Simulator in 2002, estimates its supercomputer division will break even this fiscal year on sales of ¥20 billion to ¥30 billion.

Fujitsu is building what it says will be the world’s fastest computer when completed in 2012 at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research near Osaka. The machine, the size of half a soccer field, will string together 80,000 processors and be able to perform 10 quadrillion calculations a second, more than four times as many as the current record holder, a computer called Jaguar built by Cray Inc. and housed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

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