Thursday, September 4, 2008
The Japanese government estimates the Earth Simulator cost $400,000,000, making it the most expensive computer ever built. The budget for the Earth Simulator project was authorized for the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) and the Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation (PNC) in 1997, and NEC Corporation made the winning bid for the Japanese project.
By May 2002, the 640 processor node supercomputer was benchmarked with Linpack as having 35.86 TFlop/s performance. This gave it the top spot on the TOP500 Supercomputer Sites list until 2004 when IBM’s BlueGene/L supercomputer took its place using an architecture that cost less than half as much to implement.
Each processor node in the Earth Simulator contains 8 vector processors running at 500MHz with 16GB of shared memory, and the total main memory in the machine is 10 terabytes. The operating system running on the supercomputer is NEC’s UNIX-based OS called “SUPER-UX” which is used on NEC’s SX Series of supercomputers.
This expensive computer is used for a wide variety of international projects, most of which are related to atmospheric, climate, and oceanographic simulation.
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