The iPSC/860 is a high performance parallel computer system. The processing power of the iPSC/860 comes from its processing nodes. Each node in the iPSC/860 is either a CX or an RX processor. Each CX processor may also be accompanied by an SX scalar processor and/or a VX vector processor. Every iPSC/860 system contains at least one RX node. The CX node is based on the Intel386 microprocessor. An RX node consists of an Intel i860 microprocessor capable of a peak performance of 80 MFLOPS. The i860 has multiple arithmetic units: an integer unit, a floating point adder and a floating point multiplier.
The iPSC/860 has a System Resource Manager (SRM) known as the host which serves as a front-end to the nodes in the hypercube. Often, one or more workstations are also configured to serve as hosts to the iPSC/860. These workstations are connected to the iPSC/860 by Ethernet.