BP Starts Building World's Biggest Commercial Research Computer

BP has begun building a new supercomputing complex for commercial research that it claims will be the biggest in the world at its Westlake Campus in Houston, the company reported Friday.

The project is designed to keep BP at the forefront of seismic imaging technology and, the firm said, will be a critical tool in its global hunt for oil and natural gas in coming years.

The new High-Performance Computing (HPC) center, scheduled to open in mid-2013, will serve as a worldwide hub for processing and managing very large amounts of geological and seismic data from across BP's portfolio. It will enable scientists to produce clear images of rock structures that are deep underground.

BP said that the added computing power will help its teams to work more efficiently and accurately than ever before, reducing drilling risk and timetables of future exploration programs.

"This is not just about building a bigger and better computer," said BP Executive Vice President for Production Robert Fryar.

"BP's new high-performance computing center will be as important to our global search for new energy resources as any piece of equipment we employ today, and it once again highlights BP's commitment to applying the best technology to the world's biggest energy challenges."

BP's existing HPC center was the world's first commercial research center to achieve a petaFLOP of processing speed (or one thousand trillion calculations per second). But the company said that this has now reached maximum power and cooling capacity in its current space at the Westlake Campus.

The new center will be housed in a three-story, 110,000-square foot facility. Equipped with more than 67,000 CPUs, it is expected to have the ability to process data at a rate of up to two petaFLOPS.

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.

 

 

A former engineer, Jon is an award-winning editor who has covered the technology, engineering and energy sectors since the mid-1990s. Email Jon at jmainwaring@rigzone.com

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