HPC5. Shaping the energy of the future

The Eni supercomputer speeding up the energy change. Opened on 6 February 2020 at the Green Data Centre.

Shaping the future of energy

The HPC5 supercomputer was launched at a special event on February 6, 2020, at Eni’s Green Data Center. Daniele Manca, columnist and deputy editor-in-chief at Corriere della Sera, covered the event and talked to Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi about this exciting new advance. The event focused on how technological innovation will help shape the future of energy. The HPC5 is a powerful and vital tool that now plays a key role in this by speeding up important research projects.

Also attending were Biondo Biondi, professor of geophysics and co-director of the Stanford Exploration Project at Stanford University; Fabio Trincardi, director of the Department of Earth Systems Science and Environmental Technologies at the National Research Council (CNR) and joint director of the CNR base on Svalbard; Giuliana Mattiazzo, vice rector for technology transfer at the Polytechnic University of Turin; and Dennis G Whyte, director of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

The programme concluded with Eni president Emma Marcegaglia speaking on the current state of energy transformation. They discussed studies and assessments of the effects of warming in the Arctic cryosphere on the climate and environment, including research done in collaboration with the CNR unit in Lecce. Among many other topics covered at the event was the work Eni has done on magnetic fusion with MIT in Boston and with the Polytechnic University of Turin on fluid-dynamic modelling for the MaREnergy, ISWEC and PowerBuoy® systems. 


Three times more powerful than its predecessor, HPC4

On 24 January, 1984, Apple launched the Macintosh – the computer that would go on to revolutionise the world of IT. Thirty-six years later, Eni presented its new supercomputer: HPC5. With a peak power of 51.7 petaflops, HPC5 can process 52 million billion[E1]  mathematical calculations a second; three times the capability of its forerunner, HPC4. Combined, the two supercomputers have a calculating capacity of 70 petaflops. The new machine is one of the most powerful privately-owned supercomputers in the world and joins HPC4 at Eni’s Green Data Center in Ferrera Erbognone, Italy. The system has a low environmental impact, cooling itself with room-temperature air for most of the year, and has a constant energy supply from a 1 MW field of solar panels.

The supercomputer is yet further proof that Eni is a driving force in innovation in Europe. HPC5 enables Eni to use Big Data to accelerate research and development from non-fossil energy sources. Thanks to the hard work, innovation and experience of Eni’s people, this powerful technology will be a vital tool in defining the energy of the future, speeding up energy transition and implementing processes supporting exploration and renewable sources.

The permanent exhibition space

Following the launch event, a permanent exhibition space remains, devoted to HPC5 and its work. Part of this space is dedicated to Eni and highlights the value of teamwork and expertise, including a visual presentation of Eni’s new mission. There is also an exploration zone, with 3D models of some of the company’s main projects. Another section illustrates research devoted to “tomorrow’s energy” – from photovoltaics (OPV and LSC) to MaREnergy (ISWEC, PowerBuoy, Clean Sea) and fusion (with ARC 3D models). There’s also an area dedicated to calculating power and detailing the evolution of HPC and IT at Eni, from the hubs of HPC1, 2 and 3 to those of HPC4 and HPC5. The final section takes a look at the Green Data Center’s work, particularly its innovative cooling system – known as free-cooling.

The genesis of HPC: an ever-changing story

In October 2013, Eni opened its Green Data Center to host the company’s high-performance computer-processing systems that are key to management and seismic simulation. The aim was to “give new energy to energy” through an outstanding, innovative and sustainable prototype. In July 2014, HPC2 was launched as the company’s second high-performance computing system. This new supercomputer used an innovative approach that combined calculation accelerators and traditional processors in a “hybrid cluster architecture”. It had 1,500 calculation hubs, with more than 30,000 cores overall, not to mention 3,000 NVIDIA Tesla GPU accelerators linked to a high-speed InfiniBand network.

In 2017, HPC3 arrived. Together with its predecessor, it provided Eni with a total effective calculating power of 5.8 petaflops and a peak power of 8.4 petaflops. This new cluster was based on hybrid architecture and used graphics as calculation accelerators alongside normal processors. In January 2018, the launch of HPC4 revealed it to be the most powerful system of its type in the world at that time, with a peak performance of 18.6 petaflops. Linked to the existing supercomputing system HPC3, it brought the total infrastructure to a peak power of 22.4 petaflops – that is, 22.4 million billion mathematical operations a second. Today, HPC5 and its remarkable potential continues to be a symbol of the challenge we want to win.

HPC5 - Press Kit

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