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Oil and gas giant Petrobras readies Latin America's largest supercomputer

The assembly process can take up to three months, and the equipment is expected to be operating at full capacity in December.
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Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer on
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Dmitriy Rybin -- Shutterstock

Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobras has started the assembly of a new supercomputer, with a specification set to surpass the two largest computers of its kind in Latin America, which also belong to the company.

With a processing capacity equivalent to six million smartphones or 150,000 modern laptops, the Pegaso supercomputer is expected to increase the company's current processing capacity from 42 to 63 Petaflops. Pegaso has a processing capacity of 21 Petaflops, almost the sum of the supercomputers the firm currently uses, Dragon (14 Petaflops) and Atlas (8.9 Petaflops) together. The new machine is equipped with 678 terabytes of RAM and a 400 Gbps network, in addition to 2016 Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) and has been designed with energy efficiency in mind.

To transport the 30 tonnes of components for the supercomputer to its location in Vargem Grande, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, 32 trucks were needed. When all the racks where the components will live are ready, a line will be formed with a total length of 35 meters. The assembly process can take up to three months, which will be followed by the implementation of the operating system and software, as well as a period of assisted operation. The supercomputer is expected to start operating at full capacity in December.

According to the oil and gas giant, the new supercomputer is crucial to enabling digital technology initiatives, as well as boosting operations efficiency, making the company more resilient to changing business scenarios.

Moreover, the investment in high-performance computing is intended to help Petrobras expand on the application of techniques in the processing of geophysical and geological data. This is aimed to reduce geological and operational risks, as well as the time between the discovery of an oil field and the beginning of its production.

Expanding data processing capacity allows the company to generate increasingly clearer subsurface images of areas mapped for oil and natural gas exploration and reduce the processing time of this information, according to Petrobras. "This contributes to optimizing production, increasing the recovery of current reserves and maximizing the efficiency of the company's exploratory projects", it noted.

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