Saudi Aramco Housing Supercomputers

Company home to three of world’s 500 most powerful supercomputers. When the International Supercomputing Conference was held in Germany for its 30th year recently, a list of the world's 500 most powerful supercomputers was on display, along with information about their whereabouts, operational systems, and other technical information. The conference publishes a list of the most powerful supercomputer every six months. The list is selected based on a speed test called LINPACK that measures the computer's ability to execute certain mathematical calculations in one second. When the most recent list was announced, the Chinese Tianhe-2 topped the list as the most powerful supercomputer in the world. It can execute nearly 33 trillion (petaflops) operations per second, contains 3 million computer processors, and consume nearly 18 megawatts of electricity. Seven supercomputers in Kingdom This year, seven supercomputers in the Kingdom made the list, with three of them at Saudi Aramco; Makman, Faris and Makman-2. The other two are located at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) (Shaheen and Shaheen-2), one at King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) (Sanam), and one at King Abdulaziz University. The Makman-2 supercomputer of Saudi Aramco’s Exploration and Petroleum Engineering Center (EXPEC) is ranked the 28th on the new list. It contains more than 76,000 central processors and can crank out 2.249 trillion operations a second. The other computer, Faris, is equipped with more than 40,960 processors with the ability to execute 816 billion operations per second. Makman-1 ranked 151 with a speed of 441 billion operations per second. EXPEC houses numerous other supercomputers that were not mentioned in top 500 list, but if all of EXPEC's computers were to be integrated, their speed would reach more than 6.202 trillion operations a second, equal to the computer that ranked number seven on the list. Benefits of supercomputers Most personal computers have a maximum of one or two processors, which is insufficient to analyze and process the huge amount of data in scientific and engineering fields in oil companies, scientific centers, and Internet companies where supercomputers, such as Shaheen and Makman, are used for high-speed data processing to save time and efforts to obtain results. These supercomputers became the best solution for tackling complicated scientific problems such as understanding the structure of proteins to improve the quality of medications, analyzing mineral properties and measuring their endurance by simulation. They also play a critical role in climate study and forecasting natural events modules such as tsunamis. Today, they are even used to solve daily problems such as traffic congestion and determining the best routes for airplanes. At Saudi Aramco, supercomputers are used for seismic processing and reservoir simulation. The systems have been in use in EXPEC since 2001, and they are operated by the company's employees through the use of an open-source system (Linux).