The Melbourne School of Engineering recently acquired for its Computing and Information Systems Heritage Collection the central processing unit (CPU) from the NEC SX-4 Supercomputer, purchased by the University of Melbourne in 1999. The computer was managed by the Melbourne Advanced Research and Computing Centre, a joint venture of the University, Melbourne University Private and NEC Australia Pty Ltd.
With 32 CPUs, the computer was capable of performing 3.6 billion calculations per second. It was used for molecular studies, weather analysis, mapping of ocean currents, and research on the central nervous system. The collection holds examples of the central processing units and memory boards of several generations of the University’s main research computers, stretching back to the IBM 7044 of 1964.
Image: CPU from the NEC SX-4 Supercomputer, showing the cooling fins on each of the CPUs. Melbourne School of Engineering Collection, University of Melbourne