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BP Opens Center for High-Perf Computing w/ world's largest supercomputer for commercial research


ribbon cutting.jpgOn October 22, BP unveiled the world's largest supercomputer for commercial research in their new 3-story, 110K sq ft data center, located at their Westlake campus in Houston, TX.  This 2.2 petaflops supercomputer (one of the most powerful systems deployed by a commercial entity) enables BP to process and complete more precise images of the subsurface, completing seismic imaging simulation projects in a single day vs. years.  Simply put, this supercomputer will help scientists to “see” more clearly what lies beneath the earth’s surface, enabling safer and more efficient research before drilling begins.



Of course, to interpret, model, analyze and visualize this data requires massive processing power, along with decades of experience.  Many billions of iterative calculations are needed to build up the 3D seismic images of the subsurface, picking out the boundaries of different rock layers thousands of meters below the surface or seabed using a technique called migration.


To help achieve this, BP retired 1,920 Dell server nodes using older Westmere-EP Xeon 5600 processors and replaced them with 2,520 ProLiant SL230s Gen8 nodes, configured with ten-core Ivy  Bridge-EP Xeon E5-2600 v2 processors, running at 3 GHz – with each node boasting 128 GB of memory.


In addition, the new supercomputer houses 2,912 HP ProLiant SL230s Gen 8 server nodes – each with (2) eight-core Intel Sandy Bridge Xeon E5-2600 v1 processors and 128 GB of memory, as well as 50 HP ProLiant DL580 G7 rack server nodes running at 2.3 GHz. Both of these sets of nodes were moved over from the old machine, the new system provides nearly twice as much computing power as their previous machine.


The new supercomputer also comes with 1,000 terabytes of total memory and 23.5 petabytes of disk space, – the equivalent of over 40,000 average laptop computers.


 “This is a facility other nerds will be quite jealous of,” Keith Gray, BP’s High Performance Computing manager said, adding that BP even gets access to Hewlett-Packard and Intel computers that are not yet on the market. (Houston Business Journal, Oct. 22 BizBlog )




Of course, BP and HP have a history of technology innovation that goes back over a decade. BP has participated in the HP early ship program for the last two product releases, receiving large volumes of server systems before they were publicly launched. This has enabled BP to get ahead of the competition with faster processing and enhanced imaging capability in the race to big oil.


BP's innovative seismic imaging technologies underpin its strong record as a major explorer. According to BP’s press release, better imaging capability will also help the company more safely and efficiently appraise new finds and manage complex reservoirs once production starts, in part by enabling scientists to work at the micro scale and build 3D images of rock pore structures to model fluid flow.


In addition, the center opens up new possibilities for research into other important aspects of BP’s business activities, from oil refining to enhanced oil recovery. To learn more, watch this video:




 And to learn more about our full lineup of HP ProLiant servers, click here.



As we continue to make technological advances with BP and other key partners, we’ll be sure to share them with you here.

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