The WSJ's Environmental capital blog has an interesting post on Saudi Arabia's interest in supercomputers - Peak Oil Files: Why Is Saudi Aramco Building Supercomputers?.
So, what to make then of Aramco’s recent interest in supercomputers?
The biannual list of the world’s 500 fastest computers was released on Tuesday and Aramco had two new entries at No. 119 and No. 134. Both are Dell clusters, running Intel processors and both are very, very fast.
The oil industry uses Concorde-jet speed computing to aid it understanding underground reservoirs and to look for new sources of oil and gas. Aramco used another computer cluster to build a “full field model” of the Safaniya oilfield in 2008.
Clearly, Aramco is taking a sophisticated approach to understanding its remaining oil resources. And peak oilers will likely argue that Aramco’s interest in teraflops is a sign that it needs all the help it can get to ensure oil keep flowing out of its once mighty fields. After all, why bother throwing so much muscle into understanding the reservoir if there were no worries about its future performance.
We’re not sure who is right or wrong in the peak oil debate. But the oil industry’s interest in speed computing is intriguing. It’s not just Saudi Arabia turning to computers to find increasingly elusive oil. The world’s fifth-fastest supercomputer – Tianhe-1 in Tianjin, China – will be used in part for “petroleum exploration.”