Total uses SGI compute and storage systems for largest commercial HPC

Total has chosen SGI’s ICE X high performance computing (HPC) platform for its Pangea supercomputer, the largest commercial system in the world.

Pangea is used by Total to process data for the identification of underground deposits of oil and gas, applying analytic and numerical models to develop three-dimensional visualisations of seismic landscapes for oil and gas exploration.  The Pangea supercomputer will allow simulations to be run 10 times simulations than currently possibly, the company said.

In order to process the masses of data generated, the 2.3 petaflop supercomputer houses over 110,000 cores, using Intel Xeon E5-2600 processors as part of SGI’s ICE X system. Pangea is able to store up to 7 petabytes of data, which is managed by the SGI InfiniteStorage ecosystem, using SGI's DMF tiered storage virtualisation system.

“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.”

In order to achieve greater energy efficiency of the 2.8 MW supercomputer, Total chose to use SGI’s water-cooled ICE X system, based on its M-Cell design, which utilises closed-loop airflow and warm water cooling to lower overall cooling requirements.

By incorporating the cooling system with the multi-tiered storage software and hardware, overall energy consumption was reduced compared to traditional HPC designs.

“Total is recognised as being at the forefront of oil and gas exploration technology and we are proud to ... help the company deliver sustainable production growth in the future,” said Jorge Titinger, president and CEO, SGI.  “This is another proof point of SGI’s ability to deliver the differentiated compute and storage technologies that truly solve Big Data challenges.”

The supercomputer system was unveiled on Friday at the Scientific and Technical Centre in Pau, southwest France, pushing Total into the top ten international companies in terms of computing capacity. Total said that the supercomputer represents an investment of £51.2 million over four years.

Last week a report from analyst house IDC showed that factory revenues for HPC servers grew 7.7 percent on a year on year basis, reaching a record £7.3 billion during 2012, up from £6.7 billion in 2011.

Within that market, supercomputers fared particularly well, growing 29.3 percent to £3.7 billion on a yearly basis.

However, Steve Conway, IDC research vice president for Technical Computing, predicted that the supercomputer segment is unlikely to see such an impressive growth rate continue for a sustained period of time.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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