KAUST Makes Strategic Investment in Supercomputing to Advance Scientific Discovery

KAUST today announced the acquisition of a Cray XC40 supercomputer. This new system, called Shaheen II, will be twenty-five times more powerful than KAUST’s current system. With this investment, KAUST will significantly augment its world-class academic and research facilities and capabilities to advance scientific discoveries.

Based in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, KAUST is a global graduate-level university that is rapidly establishing its reputation as a top performing research university. Founded in 2009, it provides some of the world’s best equipped laboratories and an unmatched range of instrumentation under one roof. From its start, KAUST has offered high performance computing, recognizing it as a key enabler of discovery across all fields of science.

“Our goal is to empower faculty and students with the freedom to think big, aim high and explore some of the world's most difficult challenges,” said KAUST President Jean-Lou Chameau. “Shaheen II will accelerate our supercomputing capabilities in both the laboratory and in learning environments, so that our people can collaborate on discoveries that will benefit Saudi Arabia and the world.”

Director of KAUST’s Extreme Computing Research Center David Keyes added, "KAUST has computational science and engineering in its DNA. Shaheen II gives us the opportunity to enhance our fundamental and goal-oriented research, as well as to advance the field of supercomputing itself. We will also continue to support national initiatives through collaboration.”

Presently, several in-Kingdom organizations have projects that utilize KAUST’s supercomputing systems, including Saudi Aramco, SABIC, King Saud University, King Abdulaziz University, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology. “Our goal is to grow such collaborations in order for Shaheen II to become a tool for use by the nation,” emphasized President Chameau.

"This leap in supercomputing capability will enable our faculty and their national and international research partners to tackle new and important challenges," said Mootaz Elnozahy, dean of the Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering Division at KAUST. "We also plan on breaking new ground in non-traditional use of supercomputing such as in big data."

Professor Fabrizio Bisetti anticipates immediate benefits from Shaheen II. His laboratory is part of KAUST’s Clean Combustion Research Center and studies turbulence, chemistry and aerosols. With Shaheen II, his group will be able to create more realistic simulations to aid in engine designs that increase fuel efficiency while decreasing pollution.

Professor Georgiy Stenchikov leverages supercomputing for modeling the atmosphere and regional climate over the Arabian Peninsula. Among many applications, he plans to study dust storms and ways to mitigate their effect on the efficient harvesting of solar energy.

Professor Jean-Luc Bredas, director of KAUST’s Solar and Photovoltaics Engineering Research Center, plans to utilize Shaheen II to better understand the generation, storage and conversion of renewable energy. Renewable energy, in turn, can be transformational for water desalination and other energy-intensive activities.

“The majority of our supercomputer users are not computer scientists,” said Dr. Gregory Newby, manager of the KAUST Supercomputing Laboratory. “Therefore, usability, a standard operating environment and the ease of porting applications were paramount in selecting a new system. As a global supercomputer leader, Cray met all of our criteria. With Shaheen II we can extend our user base to more broadly leverage supercomputing to advance scientific discovery.”

About Shaheen II:

The initial configuration of Shaheen II will feature nearly 200,000 x86 processor cores. At initial delivery, anticipated in March 2015, Shaheen II will deliver over 5 petaflops of peak performance, with 17.6 petabytes of Sonexion Lustre storage and greater than 790 terabytes of memory. A DataWarp burst buffer will be added in fall 2015, and will provide over 1 terabyte/second of bandwidth. KAUST has an option for an upgrade in approximately two years to add next-generation manycore/multicore processors or accelerators.

About Cray Inc.:

Global supercomputing leader Cray Inc. (NASDAQ: CRAY) provides innovative systems and solutions enabling scientists and engineers in industry, academia and government to meet existing and future simulation and analytics challenges. Leveraging more than 40 years of experience in developing and servicing the world's most advanced supercomputers, Cray offers a comprehensive portfolio of supercomputers and big data storage and analytics solutions delivering unrivaled performance, efficiency and scalability. Cray's Adaptive Supercomputing vision is focused on delivering innovative next-generation products that integrate diverse processing technologies into a unified architecture, allowing customers to meet the market's continued demand for realized performance. Go to for more information.


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