Saudi supercomputer cracks list of 10 most powerful systems

A machine built and stationed in the Middle East has cracked the list of the 10 most powerful supercomputers on the planet for the first time ever, while a Chinese system topped the list for the fifth straight year, officials at the Top 500 List project have announced.

Based at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Kaust) in Saudi Arabia, the Shaheen II (or Peregrine Falcon II) is a Cray XC40 computer capable with a number-crunching capacity of 5.536 petaflops, according to BBC News. It finished seventh on this year’s Top 500, making it the highest-ranked Middle Eastern system in the 22-year history of the rankings.

Located in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, the Shaheen II uses 200,000 processors arranged in more than 6,000 nodes, and boasts 17.6 petabytes of storage and 790 terabytes of main memory, the British media outlet added. The supercomputer is being used for research projects, turbulence modeling in engines, measuring atmospheric dynamics, and studying renewable energy grids.

The Shaheen II is the only new entry in the latest version of the Top 10 supercomputer list, the organization behind the rankings explained in a press release. Each of the nine other highest-ranked devices were installed in 2011 or 2012, a low turnover level that Top 500 said reflects a slowing technology trend first observed back in 2008.

China’s Tianhe-2, DOE’s Titan ranked 1-2 on the new list

Topping the list for the fifth straight time was China’s Tianhe-2, which according to Top 500 led all supercomputers with a peak performance of 33.86 petaflops on the Linpack benchmark across 16,000 nodes. One petaflop is equal to approximately one quadrillion calculations per second.

Finishing in second place was Titan, a Cray XK7 system installed at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Titan was the top US-based system, as well as one of the most energy-efficient supercomputers on the list, and achieved a measurement of 17.5 petaflops.

The US remained the top country in terms of overall representation on the list, with 233 of the 500 computers on the rankings being American – an increase from 231 six months ago, but down from 265 on the November 2013 list. The number of European systems rose from 130 to 141 and the number of Asian systems fell from 120 to 108.

The total combined performance of all 500 systems increased to 363 petaflops, compared to 309 petaflops last November and 274 Pflop/s one year ago, and the number of supercomputers with performance greater than one petaflop increased from 50 last November to 68 on the current list. Ninety-eight percent of the systems use processors with six or more cores, they added.

In terms of manufacturers, HP placed the most computers on the Top 500 list, as their machines comprised 35.6 percent of the list (178 systems). IBM had 11 systems (22.2 percent on the list) and Cray was in third place with 71 systems (14.2 percent). The No. 500 computer on the current list recorded a performance of 153.6 teraflops, up from 133.7 teraflops six months ago.


Follow redOrbit on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest.