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Total - Pangea now industry's largest supercomputer

Written by  Wednesday, 30 March 2016 03:31

Total has laid claim to having the oil and gas industry's largest super computer after boosting the computer power of its system up to 6.7 petaflops - or the equivalent to 80,000 laptops combined.  

The Pangea super computer's storage capacity has also been increased, to 26 petabytes — the equivalent of 6 million DVDs.

Eni says, with the upgarde, Pangea, named after the single supercontinent thought to have existed some 250 million years ago, is now also among the top 10 most powerful computers, public or private, worldwide. 

There has been something of a race to the top in super computing and its use in the industry, especially around seismic data interpretation, has been clearly beneficial. Total launched its 2.3 petaflop super computer Pangea in 2013, and the system went on to help analyze seismic data from Total’s Kaombo project in Angola in nine days – compared to four and a half months it would have taken before. The same year, Eni launched its latest super computer, with 3.3 petaflop capacity. Then in 2015, Petroleum Geo-Services topped them all and ordered a new 5 petaflop system.

Yet, the industry has been accused of not adopting so-called Big Data, or data analytics, as much as it could. Despite acknowledging the potential benefits, only 36% of industry professional surveyed by risk and certification firm DNV GL planned significant or moderate investment in big data and analytics in 2016. At the ITF Technology Showcase event in Aberdeen earlier this month, the industry was describes as being luddites when it comes to big data adoption. 

Tor Jakob Ramsøy, director, McKinsey & Co., has said that while the industry more or less invented big data 30 years ago, to handle seismic modeling, it’s “not there” in other areas, such as condition monitoring, where significant gains could be made. “It is a big paradox. Everyone is talking about big data, but the industry is fooling around with small data,” he said.

Eni describes Pangea, designed by Silicon Graphics International, as a decision-support tool used for exploration and field management. The firm says the supercomputer will help it improve the accuracy of subsurface imaging, optimize the development and production of its fields, and save time, by shortening the duration of studies.

“We tripled Pangea’s computing power in just two years. In the era of big data, state-of-the-art data-intensive computing is a competitive advantage. This power will help us to improve our performance and to reduce our costs,” comments Arnaud Breuillac, President Total Exploration & Production.

"The capacity boost will support the use of next-generation algorithms developed by Total's research and development to image increasingly complex regions and produce numerical simulations of fields, incorporating 4D3 seismic data," Total says. 

Supporting this level of computing power requires a high level of power. Pangea, for example, requires 4.5 MW power supply. Total’s buildings in Pau, France, were the computer is based, are heated by reusing some of the heat released by the supercomputer. 

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