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KAUST’s IBM Supercomputer is Middle East’s Fastest and Most Powerful System

Shaheen System to enable scientific, economic and social advances through development and application of high performance computing solutions

Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia– June 24, 2009: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and IBM (NYSE: IBM (US)) today announced that the high-performance computing (HPC) system, named Shaheen, has placed 14 among the world’s most powerful supercomputers, according to the latest TOP500 List of Supercomputers.

The foundation of a joint research project launched by KAUST and IBM, Shaheen was developed to serve the University’s scientific researchers across dozens of disciplines, advance new innovations in computational sciences, and contribute to the further development of a knowledge-based economy in Saudi Arabia.

Shaheen is a 16-rack Blue Gene/P System, which performed at a peak processing power of  185 Teraflops — or 185 trillion floating point operations — per second and is located at the KAUST campus in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.  Shaheen also is designed to be one of the most energy-efficient supercomputers globally, which is consistent with KAUST’s high environmental standards.

“Shaheen is the cornerstone of the knowledge-based economy that Saudi Arabia is seeking to develop,” said Majid Al-Ghaslan, KAUST’s interim Chief Information Officer.  “The deep computing capabilities Shaheen can deliver will unite the best of business and scientific computing techniques and will enable us to find the value buried in growing volumes of data and apply that information to solve real-world problems. Through our collaboration with IBM, we are finding it possible to tackle problems of unbelievable complexity—things we couldn’t dream of doing even a few years ago.”

The research project Shaheen is powering--known as the KAUST/IBM Center for Deep Computing Research--will deliver both high-performance computing capabilities to the a wide range of academic disciplines at KAUST, as well as enable advanced research and innovation in the computational sciences and HPC field. 

Shaheen’s performance and computing capabilities include:

  • 65,536 independent processing cores.
  • A next generation data center that is able to scale to exascale computing requirements
  • 10 Gbps access to world’s academic and research networks.

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is being built in Saudi Arabia as an international, graduate-level research university dedicated to inspiring a new age of scientific achievement in the Kingdom, the region and around the globe. As an independent, merit-based institution, KAUST will employ many of the best practices from leading research universities and enable top researchers from around the globe and across all cultures to work together to solve challenging scientific and technological issues. The KAUST global research and education network will support diverse talents, both on its campus and at other premier universities and research institutions, through collaborative research agreements, grants, and student scholarship programs. The core campus, located on more than 36 million square meters on the Red Sea at Thuwal, is set to open in September 2009. For more information about KAUST, visit