Oil and Gas HPC Workshop Highlights Industry Challenges

By Ted Walker

March 14, 2012

Leaders from the oil and gas industry and the high performance computing and information technology industry, as well as academics and representatives from national laboratories, met at Rice University in Houston, Texas, March 1 for the 5th annual Rice Oil and Gas HPC Workshop.

The oil and gas industry depends heavily on high performance computing to spur meaningful returns on its investments in drilling and production. The huge demands on data and processing in the industry are driven by the services that support geophysical mapping, like seismic imaging and reservoir simulation, to help companies assess reservoirs and place wells.

The workshop’s 300 attendees is a record number for the event, which is organized by the Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology at Rice University, heard talks from industry and academic leaders, and participated in workshops that delved into tools and techniques leading the way forward in HPC in the oil and gas industry. More than a conference with formal talks, networking and conversation are at the forefront, and vendors and workshop participants from around the world engaged in dialog about opportunities and challenges.

“The growth of the workshop continues to show the importance of high performance computing as a critical business enabler and differentiator in the oil and gas industry, with a well-understood return on investment,” said Jan Odegard, executive director of the Ken Kennedy Institute. “The energy at this year’s conference is a strong indicator of the desire to attack head-on the challenges in applying computing across the oil and gas industry.”

Interactive talks covered a wide range of topics, from algorithm optimization, performance and programming tools, like HPCToolkit and Loo.py, to programming models and languages, such as Co-array Fortran and OpenCL. The wide range of discussion also covered the challenges for developing and managing HPC facilities and infrastructure, and the open-source software framework IWAVE.

The workshop also featured several keynote addresses on emerging HPC and data center challenges in the oil and gas industry:

Cray CEO Ungaro on Oil & Gas: “We’re Back in the Industry”

Peter Ungaro, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cray Inc., delivered the workshop’s opening keynote address, and he spoke about his company’s foray into oil and gas.

“If I was sitting in your chair right now,” Ungaro said, “I would wonder, ‘What are you doing here, Pete? Cray is a company that mostly goes to national laboratories. Were you trying to get to Oak Ridge last night and you got off in Houston by accident? Well, I would tell you that the same challenges that are happening in building some of the biggest supercomputers in the world are going to hit the oil and gas industry.

“From my perspective,” he continued, “[these challenges] are going to change the kind of machines that we put in production within the oil and gas community, and a lot of the requirements are fundamentally going to shift as we go through these changes in processing. The requirements keep rising. The machines that we’re using today are not the kind of machines that we are going to be using in a few years.”

Ungaro also addressed what he called the compelling business case for HPC in the oil and gas industry.

“When we look at the requirements from a compute and data standpoint, they are huge,” he said. “From data acquisition, through seismic, through reservoir simulation, and to downstream needs, that is a very broad set of applications that stresses many different parts of the machine and many different aspects of processing, not only for petaflop-sized systems for doing state-of-the-art computations, but also on the data side. From that perspective I think it’s a very unique kind of model.

An accurate seismic image has huge returns. A well can cost a lot of money, and restating a reserve has some serious business implications. When the requirements and the returns are huge, the demand for getting it right really goes up.”

As systems increase in complexity and integration, Ungaro also noted the need for increased investment in software technology that supports both scale-up and scale-out architectures, as that takes advantage of accelerators — all of this while hiding the level of complexity on the front end.

“There was a time when there were a lot of Cray computers in the oil and gas industry,” Ungaro concluded. “We’re back in the industry.”

IWAVE, an open-source software framework 

William Symes, Director of The Rice Inversion Project and Professor in Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice University, gave a detailed introduction to IWAVE, the open-source framework for regular grid finite difference modeling.

The IWAVE package evolved from its beginnings as a QC component of the SEG Advanced Modeling (SEAM) project into a framework that can be used to explore new algorithms, code porting, benchmarking architectures and testing tools and new ideas. As a part of several breakout workshops, Ted Barragy of AMD and Murtaza Ali of Texas Instruments (TI) demonstrated the facility of the IWAVE framework in the oil and gas industry by porting components to AMD’s Fusion APU and the TI’s C66x KeyStone-based multicore DSP.

In another workshop talk, John Mellor-Crummey, Professor of Computer Science at Rice University, used IWAVE as an example for how HPCToolkit can be used to gain insight into performance optimization.

Envisioning Exascale

Addressing the issue of the transition from petascale to exascale computing, Intel’s General Manager of the Technical Computing Group, Rajeeb Hazra, looked ahead to the journey towards exascale.

“Why do we care about getting to exascale?” he asked. “Scientists either have more to do, or they need to do the same thing much quicker.” Accepting the assumption that there is a continual need for more performance in HPC, Hazra called attention to the costs of the pace of improvement we’ve already experienced. With the increase in performance, power usage has increased alongside.

“Exascale is not about one computer,” Hazra continued. “Exascale is a statement that means you have hundreds of computers that are a petaflop at half a rack. That’s the promise of exascale. You should look at it as a supply chain that has suddenly been enabled at a much higher level, not just that the top of the supply chain has the biggest computer to run on.

“We’ve gone from a few Kilowatts for the largest computing systems, to the largest system in existence, which is the K computer in Japan, taking 10 megawatts per ten petaflops. So it looks wonderful, but we’ve done this by scaling out systems faster than Moore’s Law. We have not done what we need to do, which is to change the performance density.

“You have to now approach this problem from a systems perspective,” Hazra continued. “My message to programmers: your mindset needs to change. The more sequential you are, the more problems you are creating for yourself. You are thinking about performance and results in an old paradigm. Whether it’s domain-specific languages or particular pragmas or a library-based approach to getting parallel, you have to be able to express it. Parallelism with no locality, and locality with no parallelism are extremes you have to avoid.” 

He also stressed hardware and software co-design, with a feedback loop between the two parties. “Co-design has to be something that changes what you are doing and what I was going to do in a concerted way,” he said. “It’s not requirements gathering. It’s a tough problem. It can be like trying to get the Congress to work together, but it has to be done.”

The Power Challenge

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) engineers Richard Rivera and Farhad Banisadr discussed the increased demand for data center power, and the engineering practices to meet those needs. Rivera stressed the importance of engineering efficiency into data center management. “We try to be proactive,” he said. “Power is one of the commodities that technology is demanding. We have to put some engineering practices in place to gain efficiencies where we can.”

Careful planning marks the approach for Rivera and Banisadr, who use modeling software to maximize efficiency, and to anticipate HPC needs years ahead of installation. Networked sensors at the LANL data center profile temperatures, humidity and air pressure under the data center floors at any point. These sensors allow engineers to analyze the efficiency of their cooling systems and to tune the facility to optimize efficiency.

Another trend points to liquid cooling. “With the power densities [in data centers] going up towards 100 kilowatts per rack,” said Banisadr, “we see the trend moving towards liquid cooling. With the existing air-handling units, a 41-ton air-handling unit uses roughly 15 to 18 percent of its own capacity to remove the heat from its own electric motors.”

At LANL, the amount of power to cool these less efficient units translates to around 2 megawatts of power at a roughly 19 Megawatt facility. This is not sustainable if we project towards exascale by end of the decade.

Ideas in development to increase efficiency include advanced machine scheduling to maximize capabilities, modular and customizable power center technology and more cooperation and integration between facilities, power, cooling and IT teams.

The long-term future of data center power is clear, even if the path to that future is not. “We have a plan,” said Rivera, “and that is to bring in more power.”

—– 

The 2012 Rice Oil and Gas HPC Workshop was, as it has been in the past, organized by a team that includes Henri Calandra of Total, Keith Gray of BP, David Judson of WesternGeco, Bill Menger of Weinman Geoscience, Scott Morton of Hess Corp., Chap Wong of Chevron, and Jan E. Odegard of Rice University.

Presentations and archived webcasts will shortly be available at og-hpc.org.

Next year’s Oil and Gas HPC Workshop will take place at Rice University on Thursday, February 28, 2013.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Enlisting Deep Learning in the War on Cancer

December 7, 2016

Sometime in Q2 2017 the first ‘results’ of the Joint Design of Advanced Computing Solutions for Cancer (JDACS4C) will become publicly available according to Rick Stevens. He leads one of three JDACS4C pilot projects pressing deep learning (DL) into service in the War on Cancer. The pilots, supported in part by DOE exascale funding, not only seek to do good by advancing cancer research and therapy but also to advance deep learning capabilities and infrastructure with an eye towards eventual use on exascale machines. Read more…

By John Russell

DDN Enables 50TB/Day Trans-Pacific Data Transfer for Yahoo Japan

December 6, 2016

Transferring data from one data center to another in search of lower regional energy costs isn’t a new concept, but Yahoo Japan is putting the idea into transcontinental effect with a system that transfers 50TB of data a day from Japan to the U.S., where electricity costs a quarter of the rates in Japan. Read more…

By Doug Black

Infographic Highlights Career of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

December 5, 2016

Dr. Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an early pioneer of computer science and one of the most famous women achievers in a field dominated by men. Read more…

By Staff

Ganthier, Turkel on the Dell EMC Road Ahead

December 5, 2016

Who is Dell EMC and why should you care? Glad you asked is Jim Ganthier’s quick response. Ganthier is SVP for validated solutions and high performance computing for the new (even bigger) technology giant Dell EMC following Dell’s acquisition of EMC in September. In this case, says Ganthier, the blending of the two companies is a 1+1 = 5 proposition. Not bad math if you can pull it off. Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Embraces FPGAs, ‘Elastic’ GPUs

December 2, 2016

A new instance type rolled out this week by Amazon Web Services is based on customizable field programmable gate arrays that promise to strike a balance between performance and cost as emerging workloads create requirements often unmet by general-purpose processors. Read more…

By George Leopold

AWS Launches Massive 100 Petabyte ‘Sneakernet’

December 1, 2016

Amazon Web Services now offers a way to move data into its cloud by the truckload. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Weekly Twitter Roundup (Dec. 1, 2016)

December 1, 2016

Here at HPCwire, we aim to keep the HPC community apprised of the most relevant and interesting news items that get tweeted throughout the week. Read more…

By Thomas Ayres

HPC Career Notes (Dec. 2016)

December 1, 2016

In this monthly feature, we’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest career developments for individuals in the high performance computing community. Read more…

By Thomas Ayres

Enlisting Deep Learning in the War on Cancer

December 7, 2016

Sometime in Q2 2017 the first ‘results’ of the Joint Design of Advanced Computing Solutions for Cancer (JDACS4C) will become publicly available according to Rick Stevens. He leads one of three JDACS4C pilot projects pressing deep learning (DL) into service in the War on Cancer. The pilots, supported in part by DOE exascale funding, not only seek to do good by advancing cancer research and therapy but also to advance deep learning capabilities and infrastructure with an eye towards eventual use on exascale machines. Read more…

By John Russell

Ganthier, Turkel on the Dell EMC Road Ahead

December 5, 2016

Who is Dell EMC and why should you care? Glad you asked is Jim Ganthier’s quick response. Ganthier is SVP for validated solutions and high performance computing for the new (even bigger) technology giant Dell EMC following Dell’s acquisition of EMC in September. In this case, says Ganthier, the blending of the two companies is a 1+1 = 5 proposition. Not bad math if you can pull it off. Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Launches Massive 100 Petabyte ‘Sneakernet’

December 1, 2016

Amazon Web Services now offers a way to move data into its cloud by the truckload. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Lighting up Aurora: Behind the Scenes at the Creation of the DOE’s Upcoming 200 Petaflops Supercomputer

December 1, 2016

In April 2015, U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Franklin Orr announced that Intel would be the prime contractor for Aurora: Read more…

By Jan Rowell

Seagate-led SAGE Project Delivers Update on Exascale Goals

November 29, 2016

Roughly a year and a half after its launch, the SAGE exascale storage project led by Seagate has delivered a substantive interim report – Data Storage for Extreme Scale. Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Sees Bright Future for AI Supercomputing

November 23, 2016

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia made a strong showing at SC16 in Salt Lake City last week. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE-SGI to Tackle Exascale and Enterprise Targets

November 22, 2016

At first blush, and maybe second blush too, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s (HPE) purchase of SGI seems like an unambiguous win-win. SGI’s advanced shared memory technology, its popular UV product line (Hanna), deep vertical market expertise, and services-led go-to-market capability all give HPE a leg up in its drive to remake itself. Bear in mind HPE came into existence just a year ago with the split of Hewlett-Packard. The computer landscape, including HPC, is shifting with still unclear consequences. One wonders who’s next on the deal block following Dell’s recent merger with EMC. Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Details AI Hardware Strategy for Post-GPU Age

November 21, 2016

Last week at SC16, Intel revealed its product roadmap for embedding its processors with key capabilities and attributes needed to take artificial intelligence (AI) to the next level. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Why 2016 Is the Most Important Year in HPC in Over Two Decades

August 23, 2016

In 1994, two NASA employees connected 16 commodity workstations together using a standard Ethernet LAN and installed open-source message passing software that allowed their number-crunching scientific application to run on the whole “cluster” of machines as if it were a single entity. Read more…

By Vincent Natoli, Stone Ridge Technology

IBM Advances Against x86 with Power9

August 30, 2016

After offering OpenPower Summit attendees a limited preview in April, IBM is unveiling further details of its next-gen CPU, Power9, which the tech mainstay is counting on to regain market share ceded to rival Intel. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Beats Azure to K80 General Availability

September 30, 2016

Amazon Web Services has seeded its cloud with Nvidia Tesla K80 GPUs to meet the growing demand for accelerated computing across an increasingly-diverse range of workloads. The P2 instance family is a welcome addition for compute- and data-focused users who were growing frustrated with the performance limitations of Amazon's G2 instances, which are backed by three-year-old Nvidia GRID K520 graphics cards. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Think Fast – Is Neuromorphic Computing Set to Leap Forward?

August 15, 2016

Steadily advancing neuromorphic computing technology has created high expectations for this fundamentally different approach to computing. Read more…

By John Russell

The Exascale Computing Project Awards $39.8M to 22 Projects

September 7, 2016

The Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP) hit an important milestone today with the announcement of its first round of funding, moving the nation closer to its goal of reaching capable exascale computing by 2023. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Gobbles SGI for Larger Slice of $11B HPC Pie

August 11, 2016

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced today that it will acquire rival HPC server maker SGI for $7.75 per share, or about $275 million, inclusive of cash and debt. The deal ends the seven-year reprieve that kept the SGI banner flying after Rackable Systems purchased the bankrupt Silicon Graphics Inc. for $25 million in 2009 and assumed the SGI brand. Bringing SGI into its fold bolsters HPE's high-performance computing and data analytics capabilities and expands its position... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ARM Unveils Scalable Vector Extension for HPC at Hot Chips

August 22, 2016

ARM and Fujitsu today announced a scalable vector extension (SVE) to the ARMv8-A architecture intended to enhance ARM capabilities in HPC workloads. Fujitsu is the lead silicon partner in the effort (so far) and will use ARM with SVE technology in its post K computer, Japan’s next flagship supercomputer planned for the 2020 timeframe. This is an important incremental step for ARM, which seeks to push more aggressively into mainstream and HPC server markets. Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Debuts Power8 Chip with NVLink and Three New Systems

September 8, 2016

Not long after revealing more details about its next-gen Power9 chip due in 2017, IBM today rolled out three new Power8-based Linux servers and a new version of its Power8 chip featuring Nvidia’s NVLink interconnect. Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

Vectors: How the Old Became New Again in Supercomputing

September 26, 2016

Vector instructions, once a powerful performance innovation of supercomputing in the 1970s and 1980s became an obsolete technology in the 1990s. But like the mythical phoenix bird, vector instructions have arisen from the ashes. Here is the history of a technology that went from new to old then back to new. Read more…

By Lynd Stringer

US, China Vie for Supercomputing Supremacy

November 14, 2016

The 48th edition of the TOP500 list is fresh off the presses and while there is no new number one system, as previously teased by China, there are a number of notable entrants from the US and around the world and significant trends to report on. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Silicon Photonics Chip, Previews Next-Gen Phi for AI

August 18, 2016

At the Intel Developer Forum, held in San Francisco this week, Intel Senior Vice President and General Manager Diane Bryant announced the launch of Intel's Silicon Photonics product line and teased a brand-new Phi product, codenamed "Knights Mill," aimed at machine learning workloads. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU Benchmarking: Haswell Versus POWER8

June 2, 2015

With OpenPOWER activity ramping up and IBM’s prominent role in the upcoming DOE machines Summit and Sierra, it’s a good time to look at how the IBM POWER CPU stacks up against the x86 Xeon Haswell CPU from Intel. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Beyond von Neumann, Neuromorphic Computing Steadily Advances

March 21, 2016

Neuromorphic computing – brain inspired computing – has long been a tantalizing goal. The human brain does with around 20 watts what supercomputers do with megawatts. And power consumption isn’t the only difference. Fundamentally, brains ‘think differently’ than the von Neumann architecture-based computers. While neuromorphic computing progress has been intriguing, it has still not proven very practical. Read more…

By John Russell

Dell EMC Engineers Strategy to Democratize HPC

September 29, 2016

The freshly minted Dell EMC division of Dell Technologies is on a mission to take HPC mainstream with a strategy that hinges on engineered solutions, beginning with a focus on three industry verticals: manufacturing, research and life sciences. "Unlike traditional HPC where everybody bought parts, assembled parts and ran the workloads and did iterative engineering, we want folks to focus on time to innovation and let us worry about the infrastructure," said Jim Ganthier, senior vice president, validated solutions organization at Dell EMC Converged Platforms Solution Division. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Container App ‘Singularity’ Eases Scientific Computing

October 20, 2016

HPC container platform Singularity is just six months out from its 1.0 release but already is making inroads across the HPC research landscape. It's in use at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), where Singularity founder Gregory Kurtzer has worked in the High Performance Computing Services (HPCS) group for 16 years. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Micron, Intel Prepare to Launch 3D XPoint Memory

August 16, 2016

Micron Technology used last week’s Flash Memory Summit to roll out its new line of 3D XPoint memory technology jointly developed with Intel while demonstrating the technology in solid-state drives. Micron claimed its Quantx line delivers PCI Express (PCIe) SSD performance with read latencies at less than 10 microseconds and writes at less than 20 microseconds. Read more…

By George Leopold

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This