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IBM: We've made world's most powerful commercial supercomputer

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IBM: We've made world's most powerful commercial supercomputer

French energy giant Total now has the world's 11th most powerful supercomputer in the Pangea III HPC from IBM.


The IBM-built Pangea III supercomputer has come online for French energy giant Total, bringing 31.7 petaflops of processing power and 76 petabytes of storage capacity. It's now the world's most powerful supercomputer outside government-owned systems. 


Total's Pangea III is based on IBM's Power9 CPUs and will be used to improve and accelerate the energy company's oil and gas exploration missions, which start with crunching massive amounts of seismic data and use modeled seismic images to spot resource locations.  


While Pangaea III is ranked 11th overall among the world's top supercomputers, IBM boasts that Total's new supercomputer uses the "same IBM Power9 AI-optimized, high-performance architecture" as the world's two highest-performing supercomputers, Summit and Sierra, which are owned by the US Department of Energy. 


"[Pangea III] enables Total to reduce geological risks in exploration and development, accelerate project maturation and delivery, and increases the value of our assets through optimized field operations, with all this at lower cost," said Arnaud Breuillac, president of Total's Exploration & Production division.  

To build Pangea III, IBM worked with Nvidia to enhance the supercomputer with GPUs, in this case its Tesla V100 Tensor Core units, which connect with Power9 CPUs over high-speed links. 


The arrival of Pangea III follows Total's partnership with Google Cloud to jointly develop AI algorithms for analyzing subsurface data for oil and gas exploration and production. 


The pair are exploring the use of computer vision algorithms to decipher images from seismic studies and natural language processing to analyze technical documents. Total intends to use Pangea III to test its new algorithms.     

Total says the new algorithms and supercomputer will help it process seismic data more accurately and at a higher resolution, improving its avidity to reliably find hydrocarbons below ground, such as resources trapped under salt in Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico, Angola, and the Eastern Mediterranean.


The new supercomputer will help it develop better predictive production models and improve its ability to assess the value of exploration space, allowing it to be more selective about where it extracts resources.  







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Oil group Total hopes new supercomputer will help it find oil faster and more cheaply




PARIS (Reuters) - Energy major Total said its new supercomputer - which has propelled it to a world ranking as the most powerful computer in the sector - will enable its geologists to find oil faster, cheaper and with a better success rate.


The Pangea III computer build by IBM will help process complex seismic data in the search for hydrocarbons 10 times faster that before, Total said on Tuesday.


The computing power of the Pangea III has been increased to 31.7 so-called ‘petaflops’ from 6.7 petaflops in 2016, and from 2.3 petaflops in 2013, Total said, adding that it was the equivalent of around 170,000 laptops combined.


The computer ranks as number 1 among supercomputers in the oil and gas sector, and number 11 globally, according to the TOP500 table (www.top500.org) which ranks supercomputers twice a year.


Total’s European peer Eni’s HPC4 supercomputer is ranked number 17 in the global top 500 list.


Oil and gas companies, along with other industrial groups, are increasingly relying on powerful computers to process complex data faster. This enables them to cut costs while boosting productivity and the success rate of projects.


Total did not say how much it had invested in the new supercomputer.


The company’s senior vice president for exploration, Kevin McLachlan, told Reuters that 80% of the Pangea III’s time would be dedicated to seismic imaging.


“We can do things much faster,” he said. “We are developing advanced imaging algorithms to give us much better images of the sub-surface in these complex domains and Pangea III will let us do it 10 times faster than we could before.”


Total said the new algorithms can process huge amounts of data more accurately, and at a higher resolution.


It would also help to locate more reliably hydrocarbons below ground, which is useful in complex environments where it is exploring for oil trapped under salt, such as Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico, Angola and the Eastern Mediterranean.


McLachlan expected the increased computer power to affect Total’s success rate in exploration, because of the better imaging, and in oil well appraisals, development and drilling. 


    “What used to take a week, now takes us a day to process,” he said, adding that tens of millions of dollars of savings would be made on the oil wells as a direct result of obtaining better images.



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