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U.S. Dominance of the World Wide HPC Market

The TOP500 clearly demonstrates the dominant position the U.S. assumes in the world both as producer and as consumer of high performance computers. In Table 10.2 the total number of installed systems in the major world regions is given with respect to the origin of the computers.

If one considers in Table 10.2 the country of origin then it is striking that 389 out of the TOP500 systems are produced in the U.S., which amounts to 78%of all installed systems. Japan accounts for 18%of the systems, and Europe produces only 4%. The extent of the American dominance of the market came to me as a surprise. For years, in particular in the mid 80es, there were ominous and ubiquitous warnings, that the American supercomputer industry (which was essentially Cray Research at that time) is highly vulnerable to an `attack' by the Japanese vertically integrated computer giants Fujitsu, NEC, and Hitachi. Obviously this has not happened. How much various efforts such as the NSF Supercomputing Initiative in the mid 80s, or more recently the HPCC Program have contributed to the current vast superiority of the U.S. high performance computing industry, remains to be investigated. It is interesting to note that one view expressed outside the U.S. [13] is that strengthening the U.S. HPC industry and easing the transition to MPP was the only rationale for the HPCC Program.

The numbers for Europe are actually worse than Table 10.2 indicates, since 14 of the 21 `European' machines are actually Fujitsu VP products, which are resold in Europe by Siemens-Nixdorf. Hence the true European production is a total of only 7 machines (4 Parsytec and 3 Meiko), all of which are installed in Europe. In spite of a recent installation of a European system at a U.S. government laboratory (a Meiko CS-2 at Lawrence Livermore Natl. Lab.) the situation in Europe remains bleak. With lack of immediate access to the newest hardware, and the absence of the close interaction of users with vendors which is prevalent in the U.S., the best the European High Performance Computing and Networking Initiative can accomplish is maintaining the status quo of Europe as a distant third in high performance computing technologies.


Table 10.3 is analogous to Table 10.2, but instead of the number of systems, the aggregate performance in [tex2html_wrap1334]-Gflop/s is listed. Table 10.4 lists the ratio of the corresponding entries in Tables 10.2 and 10.3, i.e., the average of [tex2html_wrap1336]-Gflop/s per machine. From Table 10.4 we can see that on average the machines manufactured in Japan have higher performance ratings, than machine manufactured in the U.S. Also machines installed both in Japan and the U.S. appear to be more powerful than the machines installed in Europe or in other countries.

A more interesting analysis of Tables 10.2 and 10.3 addresses the ongoing question of who has the higher trade barriers with respect to high performance computing, the U.S. or Japan? Table 10.2 shows that obviously both countries favor their own machines over their competitor's. But let us assume for the sake or argument that the European market is equally open and accessible to both American and Japanese machines, i.e., the distribution of supercomputers in Europe reflects an open market. According to the distribution in Europe the split in an open market should be 83%American and 17%Japanese. Assuming these market shares worldwide, the number of Japanese machines in the U.S. would be 41 (as opposed to 5), and the number of U.S. made supercomputers installed in Japan would be 88 (as opposed to 31). Clearly both countries seem to have mechanism is place which restrict competition in favor of the local products. I will leave it up to the reader to decide whether only 5 out of 41 or only 31 out of 88 constitutes a more biased situation.



Next: Market Penetration of Up: High Performance Computing Previous: Introduction
Fri Jun 3 11:51:13 MDT 1994