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Next: 2 Current commercial offerings Up: Developments in Japan Previous: Developments in Japan

1 Background

As detailed in [1], the Japanese supercomputer scene is dominated by the three major domestic computer manufacturers Fujitsu, Hitachi and NEC with a strong presence of CRI. The three Japanese vendors started in the early 80's to build and market supercomputers as the top end of their mainframe businesses. Their determination to achieve world leadership in this field seems unbroken, and the long term plans are slowly coming to fruition.

One of the authors remembers a discussion he had in 1981 with a developer of Fujitsu's VP-200 systems in which he was told that the Cray machines would be superior in the world markets for the next two generations of machines, but would be equal or inferior from then onwards. Considering the relevant machine ranges, first generation: VP-200 - Cray X-MP, second generation: VP-2000 - Cray Y-MP, third generation: VPP500 - C90, and fourth generation: VPP300 - Cray T9/ Cray T3E, the long-term prediction of the Japanese colleague covering nearly 15 years looks pretty close to coming true. It shows the long term view taken by the Japanese industry and the strategy employed. Initially, superior products are imported and compared with the local offerings, then the local market is conquered, before finally the external markets are won with superior products.

At present, we are witnessing the attempted implementation of the third phase of the strategy. The local Japanese market is dominated by the three domestic supercomputer vendors with an unwavering domestic following for each. All three have started to penetrate the markets outside of Japan, with Hitachi being the last to start marketing its MPP RISC SR2001 system range in 1994. Outside of Japan so far in 1995, Fujitsu has won 5 orders for its VPP300 range, while NEC has managed to place 4 of its SX-4 systems.
Tue May 28 14:38:25 PST 1996