King Abdullah University (KAUST) installs World’s best computer for SR 300 million

We all must have seen supercomputers in Hollywood action movies, however, what I doubt most people know that we have one right here in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Not only is it a super computer, it is now being reported that the Saudi-based supercomputer may be one of the top ten supercomputers in the world. The Shaheen II has been based at the KAUST or the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology which is in AThuwal.[irp]

The Cray XC40 computer has recently been ranked as the 7th most powerful computer or machine in the world by the Top 500 organization. The Top 500 organization is involved in the monitoring of high-performance machines, as reported by the BBC. Chinese supercomputer Tianhe – 2 retained its previous position as the leader of the supercomputers list.

The new listing of the Shaheen supercomputer had been revealed in the latest release of the biannual rankings of the Top 500 organization. The Shaheen II supercomputer has the meaning of a peregrine falcon, and additionally can crunch numbers up to the capacity of 5.536 petaflops which makes it the highest ranked system in the Middle East in their 22 years of being on the list and is the first time a supercomputer from the region has attained a position in the top ten.

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology or KAUST has spent around $ 80 million US DOLLARS in buying, installing and operating the Cray machine which is around around 25 times stronger than the machine that it will be replacing. The powerful computer uses around 200,000 processors which have been arranged in about 6000 nodes. The machine also has around 17.6 petabytes of storage and around 790 terabytes of main memory.

In comparison, the Chinese supercomputer Tianhe – 2 is capable of processing at the peak of 33.86 petaflops which are spread across 16000 nodes. For those who may not be aware, a petaflop is equivalent to around one quadrillion calculations, every second. An estimate of this would be that it would take the human brain around32,000 years to complete the same tasks.

Currently, the machine is being used for purposes of research, modeling turbulence in engines, renewable energy grids, and atmospheric dynamics. The Industrial partners of the KAUST have also been planning to use the computer/machine to refine the search for fossil fuels and minerals and the processing of raw materials.

In an online post on the latest list of the Top 500, it was stated that the growth rate in global computing has been slowing down. The reason stated behind this slowing is that most the supercomputers around the world had not even been switched on over the last couple of years.[irp]

Many of those in the top list were operated for the first time in 2012 and 2011 Since we know that the Saudi people bring finesse into whatever they put their minds to, the Shaheen II computer is surely something to be proud of for all Saudis.

Source: Arab News