HPC and the Future of Seismic

In this Industry Insights article, Andrew Long takes a look at the world’s largest commercial computer installations and invites us to consider the relevance of HPC for achieving the oil and gas industry's ambitions for high-end seismic imaging and artificial intelligence.

Historically, the seismic industry has been among the world's biggest users of compute capacity. New fields of analysis from financial analysis, to climate research and drug development, now compete as the top users of so-called High Performance Computing (HPC). Meanwhile, HPC in the cloud has made supercomputers accessible on-demand to anyone with a budget. However, seismic applications like Full Waveform Inversion (FWI) and Least-Squares Migration remain hungry users of super compute capacity, and the oil and gas industry has a raft of new ambitions that depend on HPC.

Leaning heavily on the official TOP500 list of global supercomputers, the article considers the diversity of the architectures, identifies the largest global oil and gas industry installations and considers how HPC with supercomputers can be a key enabler for the next generation of seismic imaging and AI applications for oil and gas exploration and production.

World's largest supercomputer June 2020 is RIKEN Japan
Fugaku, currently the world's largest supercomputer, is scheduled to begin full operation in 2021. It is being developed jointly by RIKEN and Fujitsu Limited in Kobe Japan to carry out applications in areas such as drug discovery; personalized and preventive medicine; simulations of natural disasters; weather and climate forecasting; energy creation, storage, and use; development of clean energy; new material development; new design and production processes; and elucidation of the fundamental laws and evolution of the universe. Fugaku is currently being used for research on COVID-19.