The market for so-called supercomputers -- those able to process information at millions, or even billions, of bytes per second -- is growing at a rate of 25% per year, according to industry analysts at International Data Corp. (IDC), in Framingham, Mass. Though supercomputers currently represent less than 3% of total hardware sales, Debra Goldfarb of IDC predicts that "this market will be glutted with vendors within a few years." Among those vendors, she singles out Kendall Square Research Corp. (KSRC), in Waltham, Mass., as a comer.

Henry Burkhardt, KSRC's CEO, is a familiar name in high tech. He worked under hardware guru Gordon Bell at Digital Equipment Corp. and went on to start Data General. With six-year-old KSRC, Burkhardt is riding a wave that is rapidly becoming crowded. Major companies such as IBM and Fujitsu have been sinking a lot of money into supercomputer research and development. KSRC has one strategic advantage, however: it has struck an alliance with software supplier Oracle Corp., which should make its product more attractive to commercial customers interested in database-management applications.

-- Teri Lammers