Oil giant BP has built a high performance cluster (HPC) of over 1,000 Intel Itanium systems running Linux to improve oil and gas exploration with seismic imaging.
BP's advanced seismic research centre in Houston, Texas now has 259 Hewlett Packard (HP) rx5670 systems with a combined throughput of four thousand billion floating point operations per second.
Huge power is needed to gain clearer images of the earth's subterranean structures, and the hydrocarbons they contain, to make drilling more productive and cost-effective.
"We have to gather massive sets of seismic data and analyse them quickly," said Keith Gray, manager of BP's HPC centre.
"The combination of HP Itanium 2-based servers running Linux, and software tools and services, gives us the power to produce better-defined results in a fraction of the time."
64-bit addressing is necessary to maximise the earth volume depth that can be 'seen' using the sound waves. BP describes the effect as like "fire crackers going off in a cathedral".
Highly complex mathematical calculations are then applied to turn this scattered acoustic data into usable images.
Intel claimed that it had boosted system performance by porting BP's seismic imaging software using its Linux-optimised compiler.
Gray said that BP expected costs for ongoing support for Linux with open source to be much lower than for Unix.
"The numbers of developers creating capabilities in Linux is great and the rate of progress is exciting," he explained.
The cluster is being managed using open source tools including the widely-used Ganglia distributed monitoring and execution system.
The Linux HPC system includes over 1,000 Intel Itanium 2 64-bit 1GHz processors, 170TB of disk storage and 8,000GB of memory.
HP began building the system in September last year with a 15-processor pilot running for a month. Shipments were completed in February.
Critical reasons for choosing HP included cost-effectiveness and an expectation of long-term support, according to Gray.
The company is expecting a further 30 to 50 per cent performance boost by upgrading to 1.5GHz processors when they become available later this year.
Dr Kuan Hon criticises GDPR consent emails that will only eviscerate marketing databases and 'media misinformation'
Apple squashes Steam Link app on 'business conflicts' grounds
Philip Hammond wants to forget rules that the UK agreed with the EU to ban non-European companies from the satellites
Instapaper to 'go dark' in Europe until it can work out GDPR compliance