ANSYS, Saudi Aramco and KAUST shatter supercomputing record, speed critical decision-making

Image: Saudi Aramco

ANSYS, Saudi Aramco and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have set a new supercomputing milestone by scaling ANSYS Fluent to nearly 200,000 processor cores – enabling organizations to make critical and cost-effective decisions faster and increase the overall efficiency of oil and gas production facilities.

The supercomputing record represents a more than five times increase over the record set three years ago, when Fluent first reached the 36,000-core scaling milestone.

The calculations were run on the Shaheen II, a Cray XC40 supercomputer, hosted at the KAUST Supercomputing Core Lab (KSL). By leveraging high performance computing (HPC), ANSYS, Saudi Aramco and KSL sped up a complex simulation of a separation vessel from several weeks to an overnight run.

The simulation is critical to all oil and gas production facilities – enabling organizations to reduce design development time and better predict equipment performance under varying operational conditions, the companies said. Saudi Aramco said it will apply the technology to make more informed, timely decisions to retrofit separation vessels to optimize operation throughout an oil field's lifetime.

"Today's regulatory requirements and market expectations mean that manufacturers must develop products that are cleaner, safer, more efficient and more reliable," Wim Slagter, director of HPC and cloud alliances at Pittsburgh-based ANSYS, said in a statement. "To reach such targets, designers and engineers must understand product performance with higher accuracy than ever before – especially for separation technologies, where an improved separation performance can immediately increase the efficiency and profitability of an oil field.

“The supercomputing collaboration between ANSYS, Saudi Aramco and KSL enabled enhanced insight in complex gas, water and crude-oil flows inside a separation vessel, which include liquid free-surface, phase mixing and droplets settling phenomena," said Slagter.

Complex application

"Our oil and gas facilities are among the largest in the world. We selected a complex representative application – a multiphase gravity separation vessel – to confirm the value of HPC in reducing turnover time, which is critical to our industry," added Ehab Elsaadawy, computational modelling specialist and oil treatment team leader at Saudi Aramco's Research and Development Center. "By working with strategic partner, KAUST, we can now run these complex simulations in one day instead of weeks."

KSL's Shaheen II supercomputer is a Cray system composed of 6,174 nodes representing 197,568 processor cores tightly integrated with a richly layered memory hierarchy and interconnection network.

"Multiphase problems are complex and require multiple global synchronizations, making them harder to scale than single phase laminar or turbulent flow simulation. Unstructured mesh and complex geometry add further complexity," said Jysoo Lee, director, KAUST Supercomputing Core Lab.

"Our scalability tests are not just designed for the sake of obtaining scalability at scale. This was a typical Aramco separation vessel with typical operation conditions, and larger core counts are added to reduce the time to solution. ANSYS provides a viable tool for Saudi Aramco to solve their design and analysis problems at full capacity of Shaheen. And for KAUST-Aramco R&D collaboration, this is our first development work. There are more projects in the pipeline," Lee said.

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