Supercomputer aids Total exploration

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As reported here last month, Total selected the SGI ICE X high-performance computing (HPC) system as the platform for its new supercomputer named ‘Pangea’.

A 2.3-Pflop system based on the Intel Xeon E5-2670 processor that consists of 110,592 cores and contains 442 terabytes of memory built on SGI ICE X, Pangea provides Total’s in-house engineers and geologists with a powerful tool to enable the application of analytical and numerical models that support the development of three dimensional visualisations of underground geological formations. This is critical for identifying potential deposits of oil and gas and to determining optimal extraction methods.

The massive amount of data the system generates is managed by the SGI InfiniteStorage ecosystem and the SGI DMF tiered storage virtualisation solution, and the company states that Pangea is the largest commercial HPC system in the world. In terms of energy efficiency, Total selected a water-cooled SGI ICE X solution based on its M-Cell design.

M-Cells utilise closed-loop airflow and warm-water cooling to create embedded hot-aisle containment, thereby lowering overall cooling requirements and significantly reducing overall energy consumption as compared to traditional HPC designs. Furthermore, by integrating this solution with a multi-tiered storage environment using SGI storage software and hardware, the SGI professional services team has ensured that the large data storage environment is optimised for efficiency as well.

‘Total is committed to leveraging technological innovation and high performance computing to provide the best response to growing global energy demand,’ said Philippe Malzac, CIO exploration and production for Total. ‘The efficiency of the SGI ICE X system, which represents high computational power using a minimal amount of energy, gives Total the smallest footprint and lowest TCO possible. This was a key factor in our selection of SGI ICE X for the Pangea system.’

Total’s investment in Pangea will enable research scientists to develop more complete visualisations of seismic landscapes over time, while concurrently running simulations at 10 times the resolution of existing oil and gas reservoir models. Ultimately, this new research should provide a clearer picture of what is happening beneath Earth’s surface, allowing for more efficient upstream oil and gas exploration, as well as the discovery of reserves under more challenging geological conditions.