Thanks to one of my tipsters, I was informed the other day that KAUST, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, have teamed up with IBM to build the fastest and most powerful supercomputer in the Middle East.
KAUST is one of the most modern, dedicated and technologically advanced graduate-level research university in the Middle East, and with this new venture into supercomputing, will now make it one of the most important centres in the region.
Dubbed "Shaheen", as the Arabic name for the peregrine falcon; known to be one of, if not the fastest creatures on the planet. It's based on the IBM Blue Gene/P system, so will look very similar to the other supercomputers out there. In terms of mathematical calculations, it has 16 racks overall, and it'll be capable of around 222 teraflops - essentially 222 trillion decimal calculations per second. Not only that, the storage capacity reaches 1.9 petabyte, making "Shaheen" the sixth most powerful supercomputer in the world.
This is a huge step for the university, but also for the world. Having yet another super computer running can help find answers which we never could have considered before. The interim CIO, Majid Al-Ghaslan, who also takes charge of the design and development of the supercomputer, spoke in a press release:
KAUST is dedicated to inspiring a new age of scientific achievement in the Kingdom that will also benefit the region and the world. This statement amongst other aspects translated to access for our scientists and students to unique research facilities that will enable them to carry out KAUST’s mission.
The most overriding of those aspects was supercomputing capacity. We live in the most exciting times of science and technology in human history. Supercomputing is playing a vital role in tackling key global challenges including the environment, energy, medicine and health, and helping us develop a better understanding of our universe. Further, it is clear that High Performance Computing will play a critical role in the development of many 21st century industries and has the potential to seed significant economic growth in high-tech and high-value industry within the next few years.
In short, it was an easy decision!
KAUST as a university and academic institution, naturally wants the world to improve for everyone. By using technology as powerful as this, they believe they could have a positive impact on "significant scientific, environmental or socio-economic outcomes", which I'm sure you agree, it's what we all want.
Because this is a very expensive piece of kit, they're opening it up to all of the research affiliates, partners and contributing members of the university. This isn't just a big deal for the university, but it's also a step closer in giving students access to the most powerful equipment to make life and world changing advances.