Accelerating Time to Insight in the Petroleum Geosciences Industry with Xeon Phi Co-processors

Today DownUnder GeoSolutions (DUG) announced the acquisition of a new HPC system from SGI. DUG and SGI worked closely with Intel while developing the system, which will feature a total of 3,800 Intel® Xeon Phi™ coprocessors. This is one of the largest commercial deployments of Intel® Xeon Phi™ coprocessors, and the largest such deployment intended for use in the petroleum geosciences industry.

“We’ve already started to see dramatic improvements in turn-around times when we compare our upgraded machines to those without coprocessors. Our time migration now runs more than ten times faster. Our depth migration runs six times faster. DUG has also seen its Reverse Time Migration (RTM) run significantly faster using this new technology,” said Dr. Matt Lamont, DUG’s managing director.

Dr. Lamont gives several reasons for choosing the Intel® Xeon Phi™ coprocessors over GPU accelerators. In addition to his top researchers being more familiar with the many core programming model, when asked about the differences in programming difficulty, he stated that for Kirchhoff Time Migration, programming on the GPU was roughly four times more difficult than on the Intel Xeon Phi.

He also stated that overall Total Cost of Ownership, or “bang for the buck,” is a top consideration for DUG, and that the performance, programming environment and end price all play a role in this. For HPC workloads at DownUnder GeoSolutions, consisting of a full suite of seismic processing and imaging algorithms, the Intel® Xeon Phi™ coprocessors were selected as the best option.

“The innovative use of Intel® Xeon Phi™ coprocessors by DownUnder GeoSolutions is enabling their geophysicists to work with large seismic data sets interactively,” said Charles Wuischpard, vice president and general manager of Workstations and HPC at Intel. “In an industry where time is invaluable, the Intel® Xeon Phi™-based SGI system allows DUG to test more and faster, leading to better results in a much shorter period of time. Their integration of Intel® Xeon Phi™ coprocessors has enabled them to quickly adapt their existing code and immediately pass this value on to their customers.”

Visit with Intel and DownUnder GeoSolutions at SEG next week in Denver, booths 1693 (Intel) and 538 (DUG).