BuTinah: NYU’s Most Advanced Supercomputer

A New Super Computer for NYU Abu Dhabi

by Muataz al Barwani


BuTinah’s login and management nodes.
Photo credit: Sonal Rupani

NYU Abu Dhabi’s high performance computer (HPC) cluster, named “BuTinah,” after the marine-protected archipelago reserve off the coast of Abu Dhabi, will play a critical role in supporting the computational requirements of the NYUAD research community. BuTinah is also connected to Ankabut, the United Arab Emirates’ national research and education network, supporting high-speed connectivity between educational, research, and non-profit organizations in the country.

The supercomputer was ranked 397 in the June 2012 listing of the Top500, an industry ranking of the top 500 supercomputers around the world, and was also listed as the second-fastest HPC in the Arabian Gulf region. This state-of-the-art resource was built by Hewlett-Packard and is currently maintained at the Injazat headquarters in Abu Dhabi.

BuTinah runs at approximately 70 teraflops—or 70 trillion floating-point operations per second—the general performance measure of computational power. It consists of 512 super-dense compute nodes, each of which has a memory capacity of at least 48 gigabytes. Additional memory nodes supply 192 gigabytes of RAM, with an additional terabyte node dedicated for NYUAD’s Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, enabling the analysis of very large data sets using statistical packages (such as R or Stata). Graphics processing units and visualization nodes included in the system are used for specialized functions, such as the translation of data into images.

Research on BuTinah

BuTinah was funded by the NYUAD Institute, which has also funded a long list of research projects with high computational requirements. This was in direct response to the need of researchers to perform complex numerical calculations.

Some of the NYUAD Institute-funded research projects that have begun to use BuTinah include:

  • The Center for Prototype Climate Modeling: Principal Investigators: Andrew Majda, Professor, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Shafer Smith, Associate Professor of Mathematics. Learn more >>
  • The Center for Genomics and Systems Biology (CGSB): Principal Investigators: Michael Purugganan, Professor of Biology and Director of CGSB, and Richard Bonneau, Associate Professor, Biology. Learn more >>
  • The Center for Global Sea Level Forecasting: Principal Investigator: David Holland, Professor of Mathematics, Center for Atmosphere Ocean Science. Learn more >>

In addition to these exciting projects from researchers in the areas of chemistry, physics, engineering, and the social sciences, several more NYUAD Institute projects plan to make use of BuTinah’s computing power:

  • Computational Neuroscience: Principal Investigator: David Cai, Professor of Computational and Neural Science. Learn more >>
  • Data Center and Cloud Computing Laboratory: Principal Investigator: H. Jonathan Chao, Professor Polytechnic Institute of NYU. Learn more >>
  • Public Health Research Institute: Principal Investigator: Scott Sherman, Associate Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine. Learn more >>
  • Diabetes Research Center: Principal Investigator Anne-Marie Schmidt, Professor of Endocrinology, The Department of Medicine of the NYU Langone Medical Center. Learn more >>