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Too cheap to meter? Surely not. But microprocessors have come a long way in delivering inexpensive computing power.

The development is eroding the distinction between computers made from low-cost microprocessors, and more conventional supercomputers operated—for example—at the U.S. National Science Foundation's Supercomputer Centers. It is also shifting the balance in high-performance computing (HPC) away from the NSF's Supercomputer Centers, to powerful, local computer facilities run by academic departments and universities.