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IBM develops ‘world’s most powerful commercial supercomputer’ for Total

IBM has built Pangea III, which it claims is the world’s most powerful commercial supercomputer, for Total, a global energy company operating in more than 130 countries.

The new IBM POWER9-based supercomputer will help Total more accurately locate new resources and better assess the potential associated revenue opportunities.

According to Total, Pangea III requires 1.5 Megawatts, compared to 4.5 MW for its predecessor system. Combined with the increased performance of Pangea III, Total has reported that they have observed that the new system uses less than 10% the energy consumption per petaflop as its predecessor.

Pangea III is being built using the same IBM POWER9 AI-optimised, high-performance architecture as used in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Summit and Sierra supercomputers.

Because IBM POWER9 is optimised to take advantage of attached accelerators, it is designed to help Total not only improve performance but also improve energy efficiency in their HPC workloads.

“Pangea III’s additional computing power enhances Total’s operational excellence,” stated Arnaud Breuillac, President of Total Exploration & Production.

“It enables Total to reduce geological risks in exploration and development, accelerate project maturation and delivery, and increases the value of our assets through optimised field operations, with all this at lower cost.”

Exploring new oil and gas prospects, Total must first create an accurate picture of what lies underground, through the use of seismic data acquisition during exploration campaigns.

Geoscientists then use these images to identify where oil and gas resources lie. This process creates massive amounts of data that IBM POWER9 systems handle.

IBM worked with Nvidia to jointly develop the industry’s only CPU-to-GPU Nvidia NVLink connection, which allows for 5.6x faster memory bandwidth between the IBM POWER9 CPU and Nvidia Tesla V100 Tensor Core GPUs than the compared x86-based systems.

This will help Total to process the vast amount of data required in seismic modelling to get more accurate insights faster than they previously could.

“Based on the same IBM technology found in Summit and Sierra, the world’s smartest supercomputers, Pangea III demonstrates that IBM Power Systems are not just for the large government or research organisations,” said David Turek, Vice President of Exascale Systems for IBM Systems.

According to Total, Pangea III, which has a computing power of 25 petaflops (equivalent to 130,000 laptops), with a storage capacity of 50 petabytes, becomes the No. 11 amongst all public and private supercomputers globally.

Pangea III is also the #11 overall on the latest iteration of the Top500 ranking of supercomputers.