Saudi Arabia plans its own supercomputer
IBM and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have announced that as of September 2008 they have started to build a supercomputer. The machine will be named Shaheen, after the Persian word for the peregrine falcon, which at 200mph is the world's fastest animal. The first phase of Shaheen will consist of a 16-rack Blue Gene/P system, meaning 65,536 processor cores for compute performance of 222 teraFLOPS, plus 1.9 petabytes of storage. This means that despite the name, at least at first, it won't be the fastest supercomputer in the world, but it should rank at about a respectable sixth place on the current TOP500 list of supercomputers.
IBM, which provides computing power for partners such as MIT, London's Imperial College and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, will build the Shaheen at its Thomas J Watson Research Laboratory in Yorktown Heights, New York State. According to the current plan, the machine will later be moved to a new KAUST Deep Computing Research Centre, currently under development 80km outside Jeddah, the home of the King Abdullah University.
Aside from university research, the supercomputer will be used to analyse geological data, helping the search for oil. Medium-term expansion plans are under consideration for an expansion to about petaFLOPS performance, but with room for 500 racks, there will be plenty of space in the new university building.