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Conoco geophysical supercomputer puts Linux cluster to work

Aug 31, 2000 — by Rick Lehrbaum — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 29 views

Houston, TX — (press release) — Conoco announced that it has achieved a technological and competitive milestone in seismic exploration, with the installation of the largest and most powerful Intel-based geophysical computer available in today's petroleum industry. Conoco's new supercomputer — considered to be among the most powerful supercomputers worldwide — is part of the company's state-of-the-art… in-house seismic data processing system. The new supercomputer integrates cost-effective Intel chip technology, the Linux operating system, advanced tape robotics, and 10 terabytes of massive hard-disk storage — enough to hold the entire U.S. Library of Congress — with Conoco's leading-edge proprietary seismic processing software.

“The real advantage for Conoco of this Intel cluster is that it will allow us to analyze seismic data faster and cheaper,” said Dr. Alan R. Huffman, manager of Conoco's Seismic Imaging Technology Center. “The bottom line is this: we control the costs; we control the data; then we can focus the technical efforts of our geophysical team on developing the best imaging software necessary to make
the very best decisions for Conoco. People and knowledge, after all, are the most critical factors in our business. This new supercomputer will not only give Conoco more computer power to solve complex imaging problems, but it will also enable us to analyze our data in ways that were simply not possible or cost-effective before.”

The Intel cluster will provide approximately 0.5 teraflops (trillions of floating point operations per second) of computing capacity at dramatically lower cost than conventional supercomputers. All this computing power also means that Conoco will be able to provide its technical teams with the best geological images available in a fraction of the time previously required.

The supercomputer and its accompanying disk farm are located in Conoco's seismic computing facility in Ponca City, Okla. However, the machine is designed so that it can be accessed from almost any Conoco location. Sub-clusters can be placed in any office location or aboard offshore seismic vessels worldwide to allow real-time processing of seismic data during the field acquisition stage. In order to allow flexible remote use in the new internet-driven computing era, Conoco has re-engineered its leading-edge seismic processing software to operate in the Linux system with an XML-compatible, JAVA-based user interface.

“Conoco believes that the future of geophysical computing lies in the new Intel cluster architecture and the Linux operating system; and we have merged these technologies with our own software to achieve a milestone in the seismic field,” Dr. Huffman added. “Ultimately, these innovations will improve our reservoir management and assist other disciplines where advanced computing is critical to our ability to do certain types of analysis.”

“Conoco is committed to building the right tools that will improve the ways we search for and discover oil and natural gas,” said Rob McKee, executive vice president for exploration and production. “The supercomputer puts Conoco, which has been ranked number one in exploration and production results for the second consecutive year according to Prudential Securities' comparative analysis, in an enviable industry-leading position. The use of technological initiatives like this one, as well as our focused upstream strategy and improved tools such as two world-class ultra deepwater drillships, are further evidence that Conoco can explore for oil and natural gas reserves as competitively as anyone in the industry.”

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