Hydro, Statoil use SGI in VR Safety system

High end shared memory Altix machines used for seismic processing and virtual reality.

Norsk Hydro has bought an SGI Altix 3700 Bx2, with 40 Intel Itanium 2 processors and 96GB memory for its R&D center in Bergen. The system runs Paradigm’s GeoDepth tools for 3D tomography and migration velocity analysis.


Hydro principal geophysicist Jan Pajchel said, ‘Tomography involves very large matrix calculations. A shared memory architecture removes the need to divide our data into sub-volumes which tend to produce instability in the solution. The more you divide the data, the harder it is to match it up again for an accurate image. With the Gulf of Mexico data on the Altix, we are producing cubes of some 30 by 20 by 15 kilometers. Our data sets range from 300 to 500GB. The Altix’ large memory saves time, allowing migration analysis to be performed simultaneously on several slices. This is a very important machine for geophysicists today.’

VR Safety

Another Altix has been acquired for Hydro’s Porsgrunn R&D center, a 3700 model with 128GB memory and 96 Itanium 2 processors running Linux. Hydro is working with Statoil on a new ‘VR Safety’ system to train personnel in handling emergency situations, such as an oil or gas leak or fire. The Silicon Graphics Prism visualization system is connected to a TAN Holospace VR system with screens on the walls and floor.


Hydro principal engineer Eirik Manger said, ‘The Prism is the only system that can drive the Holospace with the large datasets that we need. The shared multiprocessor system lets us run both relatively small as well as large jobs faster.’ Virtual reality (VR) simulations include large-scale geometry, displaying walk-throughs of existing installations, design reviews of new onshore and offshore facilities, and general presentation of complex experimental and computational data.


The Research Centre in Porsgrunn uses the SGI Altix system to run large computational fluid dynamics problems and other calculations in datasets ranging up to 20 to 30GB at present. Data is currently visualized in the Holospace using COVISE software from VISENSO.


Abu Dhabi-based Zakum Development Company (ZADCO) is another keen SGI user. A combination of SGI hardware and software and consulting services from Landmark, has cut ZADCO’s simulation run times significantly. ZADCO has used its four Altix 350 systems, with a total of 56 Intel Itanium 2 processors, and an immersive VR center driven by a 16-processor Onyx 3900.

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