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.
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.
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.