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 Clear as mud: Desiccation cracks help reveal the shape of water on Mars
20.04.2018 | Geological Society of America

nachricht Hurricane Harvey: Dutch-Texan research shows most fatalities occurred outside flood zones
19.04.2018 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>