Iranian University builds country's fastest supercomputer with AMD cores

Amirkabir University reports building supercomputer using AMD Opteron processors, despite US technology embargo

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By  Mark Sutton Published  December 11, 2007

An Iranian university is reporting that it has constructed the country's most powerful supercomputer, based on AMD processors.

In a statement posted on its website, the Iranian High Performance Computing Research Center (IHPCRC) at the Amirkabir University of Technology says that it has completed a cluster that utilizes 216 AMD Opteron processors.

AMD processors, along with many other computing components and technologies from US companies are supposedly embargoed from export to Iran by US authorities, but re-export through Dubai is commonplace.

IT news site ComputerWorld reported that there were photos on the IHPCRC site that possibly linked the supercomputer to a major distributor of AMD in the UAE, although the photos have since been removed.

In a statement provided to itp.net by AMD, the company said: “AMD has never authorized any shipments of AMD products to Iran or any other embargoed country, either directly or indirectly.  AMD fully complies with all United States export control laws, and all authorized distributors of AMD products have contractually committed to AMD that they will do the same with respect to their sales and shipments of AMD products.  Any shipment of AMD products to Iran by any authorized distributor of AMD would be a breach of the specific provisions of their contracts with AMD.”

The IHPCRC supercomputer will be used for meteorological research and weather forecasting, according to the University's statement. The Linux-based cluster has been loaded with the MM5 Weather Modelling System, a freely shared meteorological application, and the Advanced Regional Projection System (ARPS).

It is a relatively low powered computer when compared to the current HPC leader, IBM's BlueGene/L System. The IHPCRC computer is reported as hitting processing speeds of 860 gigaflops per second, or 860 billion calculation per second, while BlueGene/L clocks at 478.2 teraflops per second, or 478 trillion calculations per second.

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