Large-scale information technology projects can balloon to inconceivable figures very quickly with endless revisions, change orders and delays pushing budgets into the stratosphere. Sometimes the cost of an IT project can be measured simply in dollars, but just as often these projects costly in other ways -- in reputation, for example. With government projects, it's easy to look at the budget and see how much it costs -- or at least how much it's supposed to cost. In the private sector, it's not
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Japan's National Space Development Agency and the Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation received authorization for an Earth Simulator in 1997, and NEC Corporation made the winning bid. The result was delivered in 2002, and the 640-processor-node machine's 35.86 teraflops/second performance kept it at the top of the speed charts for two years, when it was displaced by IBM's BlueGene/L. But its price has kept it on top of the money charts -- the Japanese government estimated it cost $400 million, making it the most expensive computer ever built.