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The Middle East’s most powerful supercomputer
KAUST's Shaheen III ranked as the world's 20th largest supercomputer
#Saudi #supercomputing - King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) now operates the Middle East’s most powerful supercomputer, Shaheen III. First announced by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) last year, the supercomputer has now been confirmed as the 20th most powerful supercomputer in the world by TOP500, which ranks supercomputer systems. The details were revealed at SC23, the International Conference for High Performance Computing in Denver, Colorado this week.
SO WHAT? - Named after the Arabic name for the Peregrine Falcon, the Shaheen III supercomputer succeeds the Shaheen II system, which was brought into service in 2015. Shaheen III is currently about six times faster than Shaheen II, and its processing power exceeds that of 500,000 latest-generation MacBook Pros operating in concert. According to Dr. Tony F. Chan, President of KAUST, the new supercomputer takes KAUST’s world-class research capabilities to the next level through its processing power, and ability to create models across many fields in a short period of time.
First announced by HPE in September 2022, Shaheen III is based on the HPE Cray EX supercomputer, which powers three of the world’s top 10 systems.
Two-thirds of KAUST’s faculty groups currently engage in supercomputer activity. That percentage is expected to increase with the arrival of Shaheen III.
Faculties will use Shaheen III to support the construction and testing of predictive mathematical models, for scientific discovery, engineering design, and to support many other university activities, plus national projects and policies.
KAUST plans to deploy Shaheen III according to a phase-by-phase plan, supporting research areas such as materials, catalysis, combustion of alternative fuels, carbon sequestration, bioinformatics, atmospheric and ocean dynamics, aerodynamics engineering, seismic imaging, medical imaging and the nondestructive evaluation of structures.
Shaheen III’s full programme is on track to deliver by the end of 2024.
ZOOM OUT - The new priority that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates place on research and development has resulted in an increased appetite for compute capacity, with academic institutions and big industrial groups investing in high performance computing. In the past few years, the focus on computational R&D, and on developing artificial intelligence models in particular, has made investing in such systems a national priority.
With the increased investment in high performance computing, is a focus on aligning research with national requirements, creating intellectual property, and monetising R&D outputs. KAUST announced a new strategy in August to align more closely to national priorities and to prioritise projects of economic value. Other R&D institutions in the region are also developing structures and process to better create and commercialise IP. Meanwhile, big industrial investors in R&D, such as ADNOC and Aramco, are now investing in R&D outputs that they can commercialise and sell externally, versus focus their efforts entirely on internal requirements.
IMO - High performance computing will become more and more important for Saudi Arabia and UAE R&D goals, which increasingly map to national economic strategies and goals to create valuable IP at home. This makes funding, access to the right technologies and the ability to buy the latest high performance computing systems all critical for the region to realise its R&D ambitions.
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