Cray and Alliant Geophysical Provide Seismic Solutions for Energy Industry

Global supercomputer leader Cray Inc. and Alliant Geophysical, a privately held seismic solutions provider, are collaborating to reduce the turnaround time of depth imaging projects for oil companies.

The companies agreed to make Alliant Geophysical's unique 3D prestack depth migration software run optimally on Cray T3E(TM) highly scalable supercomputer systems. Three-dimensional prestack depth migration is a technique for "imaging" oil and gas reserves from seismic data, and is used to improve the odds for finding oil. The Alliant software, 3DWAVE, employs the shot-record finite difference method, a technique that is more accurate, but also more computationally intensive, than the established Kirchhoff method. The Kirchhoff method for 3D prestack depth migration first became feasible with the introduction of prior-generation Cray® supercomputers in the mid-1990s.

The companies said the initial software porting has been completed and optimization work will be complete by year-end. As part of the collaboration agreement, Cray has delivered a Cray T3E system to Alliant for the company's use in this commercial effort. In return, Cray T3E systems and subsequent Cray supercomputers to which the Alliant software is ported will be the first supercomputer-class platforms for Alliant's 3D prestack depth migration software, according to George Stephenson, head of petroleum industry sales for Cray Inc. "Several parties have been trying to do 3D prestack depth migration using the finite difference method, with only nominal success," said Stephenson. "This is a demanding application, and the Cray T3E system offers the extreme scalability and high efficiency for large workloads indicative of this important class of solution. Alliant's software produces the first commercial-oriented solution tailored for large-scale projects." The Cray T3E system is widely recognized as the most technically successful highly scalable computer and set the world record for sustained performance on a full 64-bit application.

"The Cray T3E system is the ideal platform for our leading edge prestack imaging solutions," said Craig Limbaugh, president of Alliant Geophysical. "The system delivers the combination of processor performance, inter-processor communication, bandwidth and scalability to handle our advanced imaging and demanding applications efficiently. By optimizing our software for the Cray T3E system, we will provide customers the quality, performance and affordability that this emerging market demands.

"Faster turnaround time benefits our clients because this gives them more time to investigate the oil exploration opportunity without the loss of quality; and in this business, time is money," added Limbaugh.