Cray announces new supercomputers

Civilian government and academic researchers requiring supercomputers to do their jobs, but who can't afford to break the bank to get them, soon will have another option with Cray Inc.'s Oct. 2 announcement of the new SX-6 Series supercomputers.

The Cray SX-6 Series will be available to all civilian U.S. federal agencies and approved federal contractors under the NASA Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement (SEWP III) contract awarded to the team of Cray and Government Micro Resources Inc. in August 2001.

The new supercomputers are scheduled for limited availability by the end of 2001, with general availability in the first quarter of 2002. U.S. list pricing starts at "well under $1 million" for the smallest configuration —the number of processors, memory size and total disk capacity—said Eric Pitcher, Cray's senior director of technical marketing. Larger configurations are priced at several million dollars.

Targeted industry sectors include aerospace, weather and environmental, automotive and petroleum research, according to the Seattle-based company.

Cray SX-6 supercomputers' features include:

* Speeds of up to 8 trillion calculations/sec (teraflops).

* Peak performance of 8 gigaflops (billions of calculations/sec) per single-chip processor, 64 gigaflops per node, and 8 teraflops for the largest configuration.

* Shared memory of up to 64G per node.

* Memory bandwidth of up to 256 gigabytes/sec per node.

* An input/output bandwidth of 6.4 gigabytes/sec per node.

The SX-6 Series is manufactured by NEC Corp. Cray has exclusive rights to sell and service NEC vector supercomputers in North America, Pitcher said.

Technically, the SX Series was available in the United States from 1986 to 1996, but in 1997, the U.S. market was closed to Japanese-manufactured systems. With the lifting of import duties and the signing of a Cray/NEC agreement earlier this year, the newest SX Series models are again available in the United States, he said.

Cray's federal customers include the National Cancer Institute and multiple agencies within the Defense Department.

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