Bubba gets bigger

PERTH-based DownUnder GeoSolutions is upgrading its global network of data centres to give its ability to process seismic data more oomph.
Bubba gets bigger Bubba gets bigger Bubba gets bigger Bubba gets bigger Bubba gets bigger

DUG's super-computer.

Haydn Black


DUG - which has computers in Perth, Kuala Lumpur, London and Houston - is aiming to develop one of the biggest capacities in the world, and expects it will exceed its competitors, based on petaflops per geo, when the upgrades are complete later this year.
The company's supercomputer in Texas, known as Bubba, was installed just three years ago and has 6PF of capacity. 
In 2014 Bubba was one of the largest in the world, but in collaboration with chipmaker Intel it is boosting the computer's capacity to 12PF.
A flop [floating point operation] is essentially one thousand trillion operations per second.
Until recently the US Department of Energy had one of the world's largest supercomputer, a 17.6PH behemoth Cray XK7 at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, however this week an upgrade to Switzerland's Piz Daint system boosted that machine from 9.8PF to 19.6PF.
About half the world's top 10 computers are in North America, and the US is aiming to regain top spot later this summer with a when its Summit supercomputer comes online. It is expected to have a peak performance of more than 100PF. 
Bubba may eventually exceed even that. 
DUG's work involves an expansion that will allow Bubba to exceed 120PF in 2018, assuming the demand for raw muscle form industry eventuates.
DUG's supercomputer in Perth, known as Bruce, is also undergoing its own expansion and London and Kuala Lumpur are next to be upgraded, coinciding with brand new offices and data centres currently being established in those regions.
All of DUG's processing and imaging codes are running on new Intel Xeon Phi processor that are up to three times faster than the earlier generation.  
DUG said that combining the Intel processor with its proprietary, immersive oil-cooling technology had enabled a significant reduction of the computer footprint and a massive 40% reduction in power consumption - making it the "greenest installation on Earth". 
DUG managing director Matt Lamont said the company was choosing to invest, even though the sectors it serves have seen little growth for several years, because it was a time to "step up and be noticed".
He said DUG was looking to "hire the best people, investing heavily in R&D, expanding our skill set and developing a massive expansion plan for (it's) global processing centres."
Intel vice president of rack scale design solutions Charles Wuischpard said the new machines would support the cost-effective, large-scale use of emerging seismic codes, such as full waveform inversion, while also supporting established applications and codes. 
"This is a long-term relationship that is about not just DUG flexes its muscle Australian company builds one of the world's largest supercomputers technology, but also deep collaboration and the use of new business models that will help enable more cost effective energy exploration for the entire industry," he said.
Lamont said that, as oil prices fell below $US$50, companies were looking to save money so companies that can help reduce costs and reduce timeframes were able to secure more work.
"As acquisition prices fell, the size of datasets grew considerably and this played to our strengths," Lamont said. 
"We run a lean company and with Intel's support and next-generation technology, which our high-performance algorithms fully utilise, we're expanding our processing capability to a whole new level. 
"Our combination of extensive technology, service and value for money is extremely compelling." 


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