Middle East's 'fastest most powerful supercomputer'

IBM and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) will jointly build and conduct research on what being claimed as ‘the most complex, high-performance computing (HPC) system in the Middle East, and among academic institutions in the world’.

Named Shaheen, the system will serve the University’s scientific researchers across multiple disciplines, advance computational sciences, and contribute to the further development of a knowledge-based society in Saudi Arabia.

Shaheen is the Arabic word for the Peregrine falcon, a bird which can reach dive speeds of up to 213 miles (or 342 kilometers) per hour. Similarly, the 16-rack Blue Gene/P System, capable of 222 Teraflops-(or 222 trillion floating point operations)-per-second installed at the KAUST campus in Thuwal, will become the fastest supercomputer in the Middle East, and equivalent to the fastest in Europe.

According to the industry TOP500 list, which releases a bi-annual global ranking of the fastest, most powerful commercially-available computer systems, Shaheen would rank sixth in the world in terms of performance, and is designed to scale upward. By 2010, KAUST will make available a petaflop computing capability, putting the University on a path toward exascale computing,its makers promise.

The project, known as the KAUST/IBM Center for Deep Computing Research, is designed to jumpstart KAUST’s HPC capacity. The Center will initially be located at IBM’s T. Watson Research Laboratory in Yorktown Heights, New York, and is offering HPC services to KAUST’s research partners located throughout the world. These range in discipline and geography, from MIT in Massachusetts, to London’s Imperial College, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

KAUST researchers will be embedded with industry-leading IBM researchers. The Center will move to the new KAUST campus in the summer of 2009, shortly before the University officially opens in September 2009.

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