SGI held its first Energy Summit in Houston last month, showcasing its high-end visualization technologies to the oil and gas industry. SGI rolled out its big guns for the occasion – with a top-level briefing from SGI president Bob Bishop and an endorsement for its technology from former DOE secretary Bill Richardson.
Bishop claims, “A new breed of graphic supercomputers is having a dramatic effect in reducing the complexity of decision making in the oil industry.” While Richardson, in his keynote address, lauded SGI’s “remarkable commitment to continuous technological improvement [which] has helped the industry reliably meet the energy needs of appreciative nations around the globe.”
SGI Energy Solutions director Bill Bartling explained, “The oil and gas industry was among the first to adopt immersive visualization as a decision-making tool, turning seismic data into 3D images that teams of engineers and scientists walk through and manipulate in real time. This has resulted in improved success rates for the oil companies, who also produce more oil from the same wells and has extended oilfield life. It has also improved shareholder value and at the same time reduced environmental impact and decreased reliance on imported oil.”
The object of the SGI hype is its new Visual Area Networking (VAN) technology, which SGI hopes will become the equivalent of the World Wide Web for users of graphic-intensive computing. VAN will ‘allow creators and consumers of dynamic, interactive visual information to be at different locations remote from their complex data management and advanced visualization systems.’
With VAN individual users and geographically dispersed teams can collaborate using any mix of client devices. By remotely interacting with a visualization supercomputer, a geologist in Houston, a geophysicist in Saudi Arabia, and a drilling engineer on a platform in the North Sea can ‘work together to maximize the likelihood of striking oil.’