Oil Company Drills into HPC Cloud Issues

By Nicole Hemsoth

April 7, 2014

Danish energy company, Maersk Oil, has seen a number of technology trends evolve since its founding in 1962, particularly in terms of its ability to stay ahead of the unending race to new sources of hydrocarbons. The company’s research and technology team hasn’t been immune to the promises of cloud computing in its evaluations of potential options for powering critical simulations.

In a recent experiment in conjunction with the software company behind one of their core codes, Eclipse, which is a product from Schlumberger and Amazon Web Services, Maersk put the cloud to the test for its reservoir simulation runs.

While this experiment didn’t yield a great deal in terms of surprises performance-wise, it did raise some important questions about critical side topics in cloud for high performance computing codes. License models, overall cost, and the potential for “cloud gateway” services as delivered by companies like Panzura made this test use of public cloud resources noteworthy, even if the goal was not to come up with a world class-level infrastructure alternative.

In a recent conversation with Maersk’s head of server infrastructure, Thomas O’Reilly, he told us the intention of what the team did “was not to move our production HPC stuff into the cloud.” Rather, he says, “the point was to open a conversation about the possibilities of cloud in general and use this as an example of what might be possible.” The company provided a diagram to highlight their effort, emphasizing the differences between their bare metal environment, the cloud with multiple options in terms of configuration. He noted that the limitations to their test were Schlumberger’s requirements for running the code on certain CPUs, network cards, etc. as well as running before the newest generation of Amazon Ivy Bridge-based servers were available.

flow

O’Reilly stressed that their collaborators, Schlumberger, whom allowed them to use limited code for the test runs, learned some important lessons about license modeling. The benefit here, says O’Reilly, is that can understand firsthand the possible value of a model that goes beyond per-core pricing.

In addition to being one of the most popular reservoir simulation codes, Eclipse is also one of the most expensive, with license costs in the millions if its deployed across a large cluster given its per core pricing structure and additional required modules. Ultimately, the test case proved the well-known concept that, for smaller companies, it’s possible to secure lower startup and maintenance costs. It also proved that for these users, especially with the newest Generation 3 upgrades with Xeon E5s and enhanced networking, reasonably good performance can be extracted for applications like Eclipse at a cost model that is palatable—as long as they’re not running 24/7. The problem is, most major oil companies are cycling through Eclipse or their code of choice endlessly.

cost

With cost, performance, and licensing in mind, one might wonder why anyone would bother running a code like this on a large system if it doesn’t scale to high CPU counts. O’Reilly says these simulations can take probabilistic approaches where it runs every scenario to look for trends or deterministic simulations, which tap the knowledge of an expert reservoir engineer to point them to the best possible location for solid results to run a more focused simulation. In either case, they’re running “batches” against very large datasets and meshing the results together–divide and conquer style. This means two things for running these jobs in a cloud environment—first, these smaller runs can be nicely handled on cloud-based resources and held together within appliances like their Panzura boxes for access and sharing.

The team tried to keep the cloud configuration and use as close to real production as possible. On site they’re running the same Eclipse code around the clock with little to no downtime. Interestingly, they only have a three HP blades in their Infiniband-connected cluster with around 40 CPUs, says O’Reilly. This is because the code doesn’t scale well past that—something he says Schlumberger has an alternative to meet, called Intersect, but that they haven’t adopted.

This limitation in scalability frees them from maintaining massive clusters devoted to the code (and makes accelerators less appealing), there is no way around the need for ultra high bandwidth and low latency. That also sounds counter-intuitive to choosing cloud, but as we’ll get to in a moment, the team’s experiences were positive on the performance front, albeit at the small scale and without the real production demands for compute that a large house like Maersk requires.

All of this also means that the recent advances cloud providers like Amazon have put forth to beef up their network story could mean more customers since codes like this require Inifiniband connections (although O’Reilly pointed to some details that in the right situation, 10GbE could be effective).

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!

ASC18: Final Results Revealed & Wrapped Up

May 17, 2018

It was an exciting week at ASC18 in Nanyang, China. The student teams braved extreme heat, extremely difficult applications, and extreme competition in order to cross the cluster competition finish line. The gala awards ceremony took place on Wednesday. The auditorium was packed with student teams, various dignitaries, the media, and other interested parties. So what happened? Read more…

By Dan Olds

ASC18: Tough Applications & Tough Luck

May 17, 2018

The applications at the ASC18 Student Cluster Competition were tough. Tougher than the $3.99 steak special at your local greasy spoon restaurant. The apps are so tough that even Chuck Norris backs away from them slowly. Read more…

By Dan Olds

Spring Meetings Underscore Quantum Computing’s Rise

May 17, 2018

The month of April 2018 saw four very important and interesting meetings to discuss the state of quantum computing technologies, their potential impacts, and the technology challenges ahead. These discussions happened in Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPC and AI Convergence is Accelerating New Levels of Intelligence

Data analytics is the most valuable tool in the digital marketplace – so much so that organizations are employing high performance computing (HPC) capabilities to rapidly collect, share, and analyze endless streams of data. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Mastering the Big Data Challenge in Cognitive Healthcare

Patrick Chain, genomics researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory, posed a question in a recent blog: What if a nurse could swipe a patient’s saliva and run a quick genetic test to determine if the patient’s sore throat was caused by a cold virus or a bacterial infection? Read more…

Quantum Network Hub Opens in Japan

May 17, 2018

Following on the launch of its Q Commercial quantum network last December with 12 industrial and academic partners, the official Japanese hub at Keio University is now open to facilitate the exploration of quantum applications important to science and business. The news comes a week after IBM announced that North Carolina State University was the first U.S. university to join its Q Network. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ASC18: Final Results Revealed & Wrapped Up

May 17, 2018

It was an exciting week at ASC18 in Nanyang, China. The student teams braved extreme heat, extremely difficult applications, and extreme competition in order to cross the cluster competition finish line. The gala awards ceremony took place on Wednesday. The auditorium was packed with student teams, various dignitaries, the media, and other interested parties. So what happened? Read more…

By Dan Olds

Spring Meetings Underscore Quantum Computing’s Rise

May 17, 2018

The month of April 2018 saw four very important and interesting meetings to discuss the state of quantum computing technologies, their potential impacts, and th Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Quantum Network Hub Opens in Japan

May 17, 2018

Following on the launch of its Q Commercial quantum network last December with 12 industrial and academic partners, the official Japanese hub at Keio University is now open to facilitate the exploration of quantum applications important to science and business. The news comes a week after IBM announced that North Carolina State University was the first U.S. university to join its Q Network. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Democratizing HPC: OSC Releases Version 1.3 of OnDemand

May 16, 2018

Making HPC resources readily available and easier to use for scientists who may have less HPC expertise is an ongoing challenge. Open OnDemand is a project by t Read more…

By John Russell

PRACE 2017 Annual Report: Exascale Aspirations; Industry Collaboration; HPC Training

May 15, 2018

The Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) today released its annual report showcasing 2017 activities and providing a glimpse into thinking about Read more…

By John Russell

US Forms AI Brain Trust

May 11, 2018

Amid calls for a U.S. strategy for promoting AI development, the Trump administration is forming a senior-level panel to help coordinate government and industry research efforts. The Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence was announced Thursday (May 10) during a White House summit organized by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Read more…

By George Leopold

Emerging Advanced Scale Tech Trends Focus of Annual Tabor Conference

May 9, 2018

At Tabor Communications' annual Advanced Scale Forum (ASF) held this week in Austin, the focus was on enterprise adoption of HPC-class technologies and high performance data analytics (HPDA). It’s a confab that brings together end users (CIOs, IT planners, department heads) and vendors and encourages... Read more…

By the Editorial Team

Google I/O 2018: AI Everywhere; TPU 3.0 Delivers 100+ Petaflops but Requires Liquid Cooling

May 9, 2018

All things AI dominated discussion at yesterday’s opening of Google’s I/O 2018 developers meeting covering much of Google's near-term product roadmap. The e Read more…

By John Russell

MLPerf – Will New Machine Learning Benchmark Help Propel AI Forward?

May 2, 2018

Let the AI benchmarking wars begin. Today, a diverse group from academia and industry – Google, Baidu, Intel, AMD, Harvard, and Stanford among them – releas Read more…

By John Russell

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate Read more…

By Rob Farber

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

Leading Solution Providers

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC and AI – Two Communities Same Future

January 25, 2018

According to Al Gara (Intel Fellow, Data Center Group), high performance computing and artificial intelligence will increasingly intertwine as we transition to Read more…

By Rob Farber

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Wins $57 Million DoD Supercomputing Contract

February 20, 2018

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today revealed details of its massive $57 million HPC contract with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The deal calls for HP Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CFO Steps down in Executive Shuffle at Supermicro

January 31, 2018

Supermicro yesterday announced senior management shuffling including prominent departures, the completion of an audit linked to its delayed Nasdaq filings, and Read more…

By John Russell

Deep Learning Portends ‘Sea Change’ for Oil and Gas Sector

February 1, 2018

The billowing compute and data demands that spurred the oil and gas industry to be the largest commercial users of high-performance computing are now propelling Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Ups Hardware Game with 16-GPU DGX-2 Server and 18-Port NVSwitch

March 27, 2018

Nvidia unveiled a raft of new products from its annual technology conference in San Jose today, and despite not offering up a new chip architecture, there were still a few surprises in store for HPC hardware aficionados. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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