to the United States and for which significant Japanese competition now exists. Supercomputers as a class have been subjected to rigorous and cumbersome end-use controls for several years.

The establishment of performance levels that define supercomputing has been problematic. In the past, controls on the export of supercomputers have been invoked at performance levels that remained relatively static over time. Advances in technology have been rapid, however, and the performance of many mainframe, and even work-station, computers has come to exceed the performance threshold for supercomputers. The static definition of supercomputer control levels has meant that controls are being applied to many machines that are far below the state of the art and to a much broader range of machines than necessary.

Decisions at the June 1990 CoCom High-Level Meeting redefined control levels for computers, but they did not address control levels for supercomputers. Industry concern with this problem will likely remain strong for the long term as high-performance architectures and machines proliferate and as definitions of what is a "supercomputer" evolve.


No single factor explains the decline of U.S. global competitiveness. Export controls are only one of a number of factors, but in some cases they can be significant. It is important to examine control policies carefully, to guard against situations in which modifiable policies diminish the capacity of exporters to compete. To a large extent, loss of competitiveness due to export controls can be avoided or minimized by ensuring that controls are multilateral, highly selective , and fair and efficient.

Balancing the national interest between security and competitive opportunity is, more than ever, a necessary goal. Chapter 5 analyzes the changing policy forces that shape export controls, and Chapter 6 examines current U.S. and multilateral export control processes. In those chapters, as well as in discussions in later chapters on policy processes, the analysis includes consideration of both the concerns of industry and national security issues in balancing the national interest.



U.S. Department of Commerce, Technology Administration, Emerging Technologies: A Survey of Technology and Economic Opportunities (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990).


National Research Council, Global Trends in Computer Technology and Their Impact on Export Control (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1988), p. 233.

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