The NEC SX4 supercomputer was one of the world's fastest supercomputers when it was leased by the Bureau and CSIRO in 1997. The SX2 was introduced in 1985. The SX4 was introduced in three phases and it reached its optimal capacity of 104 billion calculations per second in late 1999. It was replaced by the SX5 in 2001.

The complete computer was too large to acquire so items were acquired by the Museum to indicate its size as well as its processing capacity. This model was acquired along with a door, the latter gives some indication of the size. A processor was also acquired; the final version of the SX4 had 32 processors, with 16 billion bytes of memory and over 600 billion bytes of disk space. A video describing the use of the computer was also collected.

In 1997, the Bureau of Meteorolgy and CSIRO combined resources to establish the High Performance Computing and Communications Centre (HPCCC).

Physical Description

* The model of SX4 supercomputer occupies an area of about one metre square. It is a series of black boxes of various shapes. Accompanying the model, which has a perspex cover, are two circuit boards, a plaque, an information sheet and a display sign. It is a 1/10 scale model. * Dark grey metal cabinet door with matt finish with catch socket on one side. The rear is same colour with card carrier containing an installation information card in a perspex envelope. Down one side of the rear is a locking mechanism. * Electronic circuit board with components- one of the processors from the SX4 in original cardboard storage box.


The SX4, SX5 and the SX6 are the direct heirs and natural succesors to CSIRAC, which was used for similar activities. CSIRAC was used to produce what could be the first 24 hour weather forecast in Australia.

More Information

  • Collection Names

    NEC Supercomputer Collection

  • Collecting Areas

    Information & Communication, Science & Measurement

  • Acquisition Information

    Donation from Bureau of Meteorology & CSIRO, High Performance Computing and Communications Centre, 15 Jul 2004

  • Manufacturer

    NEC, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, circa 1997
    It is assumed the model was constructed in Australia.

  • Inscriptions

    Model: NEC/SX-4: * Plaque: This 1/10 scale model of the SX-4 Supercomputer was presented by NEC Corporation on 12th November 1997 to mark the official opening of the Joint Bureau of Meteorology /CSIRO High * Performance Computing and Communications Centre * Plaque: NEC Supercomputer SX-4 Series (Single-node Model) * Underneath each black block is location information of the form of a series of letters and numbers each beginning with 'NEC SX-4' and followed by one of the following: (F) 12 / (G) 10 / (F) 4 / (F) 13 / (C) / 1 / (H) 8 / (E) 11 / (D) 6 / (I) 2 / (1) 3 / (G) 9 * Display sign: NEC Supercomputer SX-4 Series / (Single-node Model) * Underneath display sign: NEC SX-4 (NAME PLATE) 20 * Circuit board on frame: NEC / 3M-TEXTOOL / 7816-1860 / (identification on component obscured deliberately) * Circuit board: (identification on component obscured deliberately) Door: * Front: SX-4 * Sticky label on rear: (text) No. 00106 * Card: XMU /SIOP(B) LOCATION /(text and diagrams)

  • Brand Names

    NEC (Super Computers)

  • Classification

    Computing & calculating, Digital computing, Supercomputers

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline


  • Type of item


  • Overall Dimensions

    1000 mm (Length), 1000 mm (Width), 300 mm (Height)

  • Keywords

    Climate Modelling, Computing, Digital Computers, Mainframe Computers, Supercomputers, Weather Forecasting