A Review of the Nigerian Energy Industry

Total powers up new supercomputer

25 March 2013 – French major Total announced that it is inaugurating its new Pangea supercomputer Friday. The computer, located at the company’s Scientific and Technical Center in Pau, France, will make Total one of the top 10 international firms in terms of computing power, it said.

The $77.5 million-investment in the new computing power is aimed at improving the time it takes to model subsurface and simulate the behavior of reservoirs, as well as improving the precision of these activities. The Pangea supercomputer was commissioned on 17 January for the Seismic Imagery and Interpretation Department of Total’s Center for Hydrocarbon Research. It will be used as a tool to assist decision-making in the exploration of complex geological areas and to increase the efficiency of hydrocarbon production in compliance with safety and environmental standards, Total added.

Designed by Silicon Graphics, the supercomputer has a computing capacity of 2.3 petaFLOPS– meaning it can perform one million, billion simple calculations (or floating-point operations) per second. It will have 110,000 CPUs and required 2.8 megawatts of electric power, with heat generated from the computer recovered to provide all the heating the Scientific and Technical Center needs.

The Pangea computer should beat BP’s new high-performance computing center that it began building at its Westlake Campus in Houston, Texas, in December. The HPC – also to be used for processing seismic and geological data – is designed to process information at a rate of up to two petaFLOPS. BP expects this to be ready in mid-2013.

Ahead of the inauguration Friday, Total Upstream President Yves-Louis Darricarrère, commented in a statement:

“We are proud of this leap forward in our performance which positions us in the vanguard of high technology at international level. This supercomputer – 15 times more powerful than its predecessor – has been specifically designed to meet the main technical challenges facing our industry. Its intensive computing capacity constitutes a key competitive asset that is an integral part of the group’s bold exploration strategy.”

Currently, the world’s fastest supercomputer is the non-commercial Cray Titan – which is used for scientific projects at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and was built with funding from the US Department of Energy. The Titan has a processing speed of 17.59 petaFLOPS.
*Jon Mainwaring, Rigzone

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