A Middle East Supercomputer Makes the Top 10 List for the First Time

Saudi Arabia's Shaheen II is the region's first supercomputer to compete in the big leagues

2 min read
A Middle East Supercomputer Makes the Top 10 List for the First Time
Photo: KAUST

For the first time, a system in the Middle East earned a Top 10 spot on the Top500.org list of most powerful supercomputers. Shaheen II, located at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), in Saudi Arabia, placed 7th in the the semi-annual competition, the results of which were announced earlier today. Shaheen II is a Cray XC40 system that cranked out 5.536 petaflops per second on the Linpack benchmark.

Shaheen II replaced the Shaheen I in April 2015. The 16-rack IBM Blue Gene/P supercomputer system and has 6,100 sets of 32 processor cores. At KAUST, 25 percent on the university’s faculty, students and researchers rely on Shaheen II, the university said in a press release. The system is used for and small- and large-scale scientific research, including global climate projects and visualizations of the brain and DNA.

Shaheen II was the only new addition to the Top 10 from the previous November 2014 list.

At the top of the list, China and U.S. battled it out for the number one position. But, Tianhe-2 did it again. The supercomputer developed by the National University of Defense Technology in Guangzhou, China, held its number one title for the fifth consecutive time. No other supercomputer was able to beat Tianhe-2’s max calculation capacity of 33.86 petaflops per second. The top supercomputer in the United States, Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Titan, remained at its number two spot achieving 17.59 petaflops per second.    

Top500.org is celebrating its 45th list of high-performance computers. Since June of 1993, supercomputer experts, computational scientists, manufacturers, and others have helped contribute to the list. The supercomputers’ performance is evaluated on the Linpack benchmark.

Here are the Top 10 from the 45th Top500 list:

  1. Tianhe-2  (33.86 petaflops)
  2. Titan (17.59 petaflops)
  3. Sequoia (17.13 petaflops)
  4. K Computer (10.51 petaflops)
  5. Mira (8.59 petaflops)
  6. Piz Daint (6.27 petaflops)
  7. Shaheen II (5.54 petaflops)
  8. Stampede (5.17 petaflops)
  9. JUQUEEN (5.01 petaflops)
  10. Vulcan (4.29 petaflops)
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An IBM Quantum Computer Will Soon Pass the 1,000-Qubit Mark

The Condor processor is just one quantum-computing advance slated for 2023

4 min read
This photo shows a woman working on a piece of apparatus that is suspended from the ceiling of the laboratory.

A researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center examines some of the quantum hardware being constructed there.

Connie Zhou/IBM

IBM’s Condor, the world’s first universal quantum computer with more than 1,000 qubits, is set to debut in 2023. The year is also expected to see IBM launch Heron, the first of a new flock of modular quantum processors that the company says may help it produce quantum computers with more than 4,000 qubits by 2025.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

While quantum computers can, in theory, quickly find answers to problems that classical computers would take eons to solve, today’s quantum hardware is still short on qubits, limiting its usefulness. Entanglement and other quantum states necessary for quantum computation are infamously fragile, being susceptible to heat and other disturbances, which makes scaling up the number of qubits a huge technical challenge.

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