Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Using video-game technology to find oil & gas

21.09.2007
IBM supercomputer supports seismic research at University of Houston

What do video games and seismic explorations have in common" Both require very demanding computer applications that call for the ability to process massive quantities of data rapidly. Using computer technology originally co-designed by IBM for video-game consoles, University of Houston seismic researchers are employing this extremely fast technology to more effectively target oil reserves.

IBM is supporting the UH Mission-Oriented Seismic Research Program (M-OSRP) and its petroleum industry sponsors with a Cell Broadband Engine™ (Cell/B.E.) system that represents a new generation of powerful supercomputers with substantial parallelism built in at the core level. Such highly parallel computing technology is characterized by multiple processors executing and analyzing different types of data at once.

Originally designed for use in consumer-based computer entertainment products such as the Sony PlayStation3, the Cell/B.E. processor is not limited to game systems and delivers supercomputing performance on a single chip through the architecture of the Cell Synergistic Processor Unit (SPU) for data-intensive processing like that found in cryptography, media, matrix operations and certain scientific applications. Current Cell/B.E. processors have up to nine individual core units per chip and future plans envisage having 34 core units. This design has a great advantage in running programs that require the same algorithm – a repetitive, problem-solving computational procedure – to be run independently on a common data set.

In seismic exploration, algorithms are used to process seismic data to remove coherent noise and to locate and produce hydrocarbons. Seismic methods are successful when the assumptions behind processing algorithms are satisfied, and they fail when those assumptions are violated. The latter breakdown of seismic efficacy is the source of challenges faced by seismic exploration and production.

There are several types or categories of assumptions made by seismic algorithms, such as collecting enough surface data to make reliable subsurface inferences and having computers with adequate speed and memory to allow realistic turnaround time. Additionally, there are innate algorithmic assumptions or limitations whose violation cannot be addressed by collecting more data or inventing and purchasing faster computers. There are many cases when collecting more complete data and having faster computers with greater memory will match the challenge, but there are other cases when the issue is innate algorithmic failure and a different response is required.

Many significant and challenging exploration targets, such as sub-salt and sub-basalt exploration and production, represent intrinsic algorithmic breakdown and failure. A fundamental new seismic concept and capability is required to address such an innate algorithmic failure, and that new algorithm often has a concomitant requirement for increased computing power. An effective and comprehensive response needs to begin by first recognizing and then responding to each of these different types of challenges. IBM’s Cell/B.E. processor has the potential to significantly contribute to several different aspects and initiatives within that campaign.

One of the algorithms developed within M-OSRP to suppress a form of coherent noise called internal multiples places a high bar on seismic data collection and a very high bar on computing speed and memory. To allow the petroleum industry to use this very effective methodology for 3-D data will require a new computing vision and capability.

IBM researchers working in cooperation with M-OSRP have recoded this M-OSRP algorithm for the Cell/B.E. processor at UH and are running comparisons with industry-standard computer architectures and other novel architectures including Cell/B.E. The IBM research team is managed and directed by Tom McClure, leader of IBM’s Worldwide Petroleum Industry and Deep Computing Visualization Team; Michael Perrone, IBM Master Inventor and manager of the Cell/B.E. Applications Group; and Earl Dodd, Deep Computing strategist. On the UH side, Cullen Distinguished Professor of Physics Arthur Weglein is the director of M-OSRP.

IBM and M-OSRP have a special relationship involving cooperative, collaborative and sponsor support, and while IBM sells this machine, it does not lease it. The Cell/B.E. is on loan to UH’s M-OSRP as part of a very exclusive program with academic and research institutions.

“The IBM team’s astute technical vision, impressive capability and business acumen not only recognize the breadth and depth of the E&P challenge, but also that partnering and collaborating with M-OSRP and its petroleum industry sponsors provides a reasonable chance of contributing toward an effective and comprehensive response,” Weglein said. “The key responsibility of our group is to educate and mentor graduate students to become the next generation of scientific research leaders while addressing innate seismic algorithmic assumption violation and failure. Our research purpose is to provide new, high-impact seismic capability, methods and algorithms – the ‘what to compute.’ However, many of our algorithms are extremely computer intensive and their new level of effectiveness requires a matching new computing vision and capability.”

The two issues of “what to compute” and “how to compute” must be simultaneously progressed for M-OSRP’s new seismic concepts and capabilities to be relevant. That fact, Weglein said, is behind the collaboration and cooperation between IBM and M-OSRP and its petroleum-industry sponsors.

A broader and central objective in making this IBM technology available to M-OSRP is to see how the Cell/B.E. supercomputer functions in a real-time atmosphere and how to design the optimal machine for seismic activities. The M-OSRP sponsors have a High-Performance Computing Committee that manages and guides that activity in cooperation with IBM and M-OSRP.

“We are very fortunate to have the trust and confidence of our industry sponsors to pursue high-impact, fundamental, game-changing research designed to make the currently inaccessible target accessible and the accessible better defined,” Weglein said. “Our partnership with IBM contributes to an effective and comprehensive response to the pressing challenges faced by the petroleum industry in locating and producing hydrocarbons. Located in Houston, the center of the petroleum universe, UH is the ideal place for this partnership to flourish. The success of this initiative has important implications for both our nation’s and the world’s energy and security interests.”

Lisa Merkl | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uh.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Early organic carbon got deep burial in mantle
25.04.2017 | Rice University

nachricht New atlas provides highest-resolution imagery of the Polar Regions seafloor
25.04.2017 | British Antarctic Survey

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Early organic carbon got deep burial in mantle

25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

A room with a view - or how cultural differences matter in room size perception

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Warm winds: New insight into what weakens Antarctic ice shelves

25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>