The Opterons? We Bought Them at the CompUSA Tehran Going-out-of-Business Sale
The ban on the export of U.S. computer equipment to Iran hasn’t stopped the Middle Eastern nation from building a supercomputer out of Advanced Micro Devices chips. The Iranian High Performance Computing Research Center claims to have assembled a machine with a theoretical peak performance of 860 gigaflops from 216 AMD Opteron processors.
How did the Iranian computing center get its hands on 216 Opterons when the chips are embargoed from export to Iran? Well, it didn’t get them from AMD. “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,” the company said in a hastily released statement. “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.”
So, again, how did 216 Opterons find their way into Iran? Via the United Arab Emirates, perhaps? AMD did, after all, receive $622 million in funding from Mubadala Development Co., the investment arm of the Abu Dhabi government.