In 1956, Research Computing Center (RCC) of Moscow State University received its first computer “Strela”. It was the first serially manufactured mainframe in the USSR. A total of seven mainframes were produced, the one supplied to RCC had number 4. “Strela” mainframe functioned with a three-address instruction set capable of implementing approximately 2000 operations per second. It had a clock cycle of 500 microseconds, RAM of 2048 words with 43 bits each, energy consumption of 150 KW. The computer occupied up to 300 square meters.
Computer “Setun” was designed in RCC, with N.P. Brusentsov as a chief designer. In 1959, RCC launched “Setun” prototype and in 1961 “Setun” started to be manufactured serially. It was an impressive and extraordinary computer, being the first one in the world that was based on ternary, not binary, logic. Trit, having capacity superior to that of a bit, can exist not in two, but in three states: 1,0,-1. The “Setun” computer took up to 25-30 square meters, and required no special cooling. Its frequency was 200 kHz. Fifty computers were produced from 1961 to 1965.
In May 1961, M-20 computer was installed in RCC. It’s worth mentioning, that mainframes of “M” series (М-20, М-220, М-222), built under the supervision of distinguished academician S.A. Lebedev, were widely-spread in the USSR. Mainframe M-20 provided 20000 operations per second. It had ferrite core-based RAM with capacity of 4096 words, with external memory stored on drums and magnetic tapes. These common and efficient mainframes had essential influence on the development of computational mathematics in the former Soviet Union. For instance, a block method for solving complicated algebraic problems that allowed dealing with systems of any rank and used only 300 words of RAM was developed specially for these mainframes. Using this method both matrix and system’s right-hand side vector fit into a slow memory but nevertheless problems were solved almost as fast as if all data were stored in RAM. The programs based on this technology were rather efficient: it took only 9 minutes to solve algebraic systems of rank 200 on M-20.
BESM-4 computer became a part of RCC computational facilities in 1966. BESM-4 ferrite cores memory capacity varied from 4096 to 8192 words with 45 bits each. Numbers were represented in floating-point mode in binary system, while the range of absolute values was from 2-63 to 263. Its memory cycle was 10 microseconds, total storage space on drum memory was 65536 words (4 drums of 16384 words each), external memory capacity via magnetic tapes contained 8 blocks of 2 million words each. BESM-4 occupied three cabinets using 65 square meters. It required 8 kW for functioning and had an automatic internal air cooling system.
BESM-6 computer was and still is considered to be of great importance to USSR’s/Russia’s history of computer development. Chief designer of this model was academician S.A. Lebedev. Designing of BESM-6 was completed in 1967 and in the next year its serial production was started. This very year (1968) RCC received its first BESM-6 computer (with serial number 13), that proved to be lucky. As a result RCC installed its second BESM-6 computer in 1975, and then the third and forth ones in 1979. A total number of 355 BESM-6 mainframes were produced in USSR in those years.
BESM-6 computer was and is still considered to be of great importance to Russian history of computer development. The chief designer of this model was again S.A. Lebedev. Designing of BESM-6 was completed in 1967 and its serial production was started in 1968. Same year RCC received its first BESM-6 computer, and despite its serial number 13 it proved to be lucky for the Center. As a result RCC installed its second BESM-6 computer in 1975, and then the third and the forth ones in 1979. During this period total number of 355 BESM-6 mainframes was produced in the USSR.
Parallel processing of computer instructions was widely used in the architecture of BESM-6 computer: simultaneously 14 single-address instructions being at different stages could be processed. Buffers for intermediate storage of instructions and data allowed three subsystems of RAM modules, control and arithmetic units to work in parallel and asynchronously. Content-addressable memory on fast registers (a predecessor of cache memory) allowed this computer to memorize most frequently used operands and thus to decrease a number of references to RAM. Interleaving RAM allowed simultaneous access to separate modules of RAM from different parts of mainframe.
BESM-6 had RAM on ferrite cores capable of storing 32 000 of 50-bit words. This number was later increased to 128 000 words. The BESM-6 peak performance was one million instructions per second. The computer had about 60000 transistors and three times more diodes. It had a frequency of 10 MHz, occupied up to 150-200 square meters and consumed 30 KW of energy supply.
RCC has also used mainframes from other series. In 1981, along with four BESM-6 mainframes RCC was equipped with two ES-1022, two MIR-2 and MINSK-32 computers. In 1984, two-processor ES-1045 was installed. Since 1986, RCC has used a series of minicomputers: SM-3, SM-4 and SM-1420.