Our Story in Words
Raad2 (2017 – Present)
Our most recent system, called Raad2, was jointly acquired between QCRI and TAMUQ. Raad2 is a Cray® supercomputer with 4,128 Intel Xeon (Haswell) CPU cores. Installed in early 2017, it contains 172 compute nodes with a Linpack performance of about 120 TFLOPS, and it employs the proprietary Aries Dragonfly interconnect. Raad2 runs SuSE Linux as its operating system and relies on the Slurm workload manager to manage resources and schedule workloads. Serving the new supercomputer is a DDN EXAScaler storage system running the Lustre parallel file system and providing a usable capacity of about 800TB of disk storage. The peak read bandwidth of the storage system is 16 GB/s, whereas a single client can read from storage at 2.5 GB/s while concurrently writing to storage at 2.5 GB/s.
Raad (2012 – 2017)
“Raad”, or thunder in Arabic was primarily a blade‐based Linux HPC cluster containing upwards of 2,200 traditional CPU cores of the Intel Sandy Bridge architecture, in addition to 12 Nvidia TESLA K20 (Kepler) GPUs, each with 2,496 CUDA cores. The 12 GPUs were distributed among 6 graphics nodes, 2 per node. Also, each of the 2 specialized fat nodes in the cluster offered 32 cores together with 256GB of RAM on a single motherboard. The majority of the compute nodes on the other hand were comprised of 16‐core servers with 64GB of RAM and a single 128GB SSD (for local IO) on each server. . The Bull cluster was paired with a 240TB (raw) parallel storage system from Panasas. In aggregate, the storage system was capable of supplying 6GB of data per second to the cluster nodes.
Suqoor (2008 – 2013)
In 2008, TAMUQ purchased a 512-core SGI Altix 1300 cluster capable of about 4.3 TFLOPS in Linpack performance. This system was named “Suqoor”, simply the Arabic plural form of the older “SAQR”. Suqoor, consisting ultimately of 74 compute nodes – each with 8 CPU cores, 64 GB RAM, and 2TB of local disk -- contained Intel Xeon processors and ran the Linux operating system. It also used DDR inifiniband for its interconnect, and employed a shared parallel storage system from the vendor Panasas -- with a raw disk capacity of 60TB. The storage system could supply up to 1.8 GB/s of aggregate throughput to the compute nodes.
Saqr (2005 – 2008)
TAMUQ purchased its first HPC cluster in 2005. This was an Apple G5 Xserve cluster with 101 nodes using the dual-core PowerPC 970 processors, for a total of 202 CPU cores system-wide. The cluster, which ran the Mac OS X Server operating system, was dubbed “Supercomputing Applications in Qatar for Research” or SAQR, which also happens to mean “falcon” in Arabic. This first system did not include a shared storage subsystem – only local disks -- and used gigabit Ethernet for its interconnect. SAQR could achieve a linpack performance of about 1.5 TFLOPS (trillions of floating point operations per second).
CAVE (2016 - Present)
In 2016, TAMUQ upgraded its visualization facility and replaced the single curved-screen projection system with a four-sided VR space. The new projection system comprises four display surfaces: front, floor and two sides (left and right). The floor display screen increases the degree of immersion and enables even more compelling VR experiences. The side display screens are configurable and can be opened completely to make an ultra-wide power-wall, or closed to provide a fully immersive experience to viewers. The viewer wears a pair of VR glasses that provide a sense of depth in the images. The images are generated by powerful computers in coordination with a motion tracking system that records the viewer’s head position and orientation with respect to the projection surfaces. These head movements are factored in to how the rendered images are displayed on the projection surfaces. As a result, the viewer is able to explore her virtual world by moving around the space and even grabbing objects with a flystick, a wand-like device. Multiple viewers often share virtual experiences and easily carry on discussions inside this so-called “CAVE”, enabling them to exchange insights. One user is considered the active viewer, controlling the stereo projection reference point, while several additional users can simultaneously participate as passive viewers.
Immersive Visualization Facility (2008 - 2015)
TAMUQ acquired its first visualization facility in 2008. At the time, it was a “first of its kind” facility in the country, supporting 3D stereoscopic projection which enabled viewers to sense depth within otherwise flat 2D images. The system came with a curved screen (covering 120-degrees of the human field of vision), rear-projected with three 8,000 lumens DLP projectors. The display was edge-blended so as to give the appearance of a single display image with an aggregate resolution of 3576x1024 pixels (roughly 2.5 million pixels). The mouse and keyboard were the only mode of interaction with the data.