The world's top oil producer is building a cluster of 4,000 Intel-based Linux systems to run its oil detection systems.
State-owned Saudi Aramco, which oversees a quarter of the world oil reserves, uses algorithms known as Pre-stack Time Migration (PSTM) to enhance complex seismic data and create 2D and 3D images of oil and gas targets.
"This is a mission-critical application. It does some of the most important work of our business," said Mohammad Huwaidi, exploration systems analyst and PSTM deployment team leader, in a statement.
The PSTM application dates back to 1994 and previously ran on proprietary IBM hardware. Both IBM and Intel were involved in the migration, with IBM providing the clustering and cluster management software.
An Intel spokesman told vnunet.com: "There is a general oil industry trend towards Linux on Intel. It has good price-performance and is scalable."
The company is using 900 rack-mounted dual Intel Pentium III 1.4GHz processors, each with 2GB of memory, running Red Hat Linux 7.2.
Intel Solution Services helped to optimise the PSTM code, which was written in the Fortran mathematical programming language and uses the Intel Fortran for Linux 6.0 compiler and Intel VTune performance analyser to identify code improvement areas.
Further expansions will boost the number of processors to 4,000 during 2003.
"Intel is doing work with BP, Shell and Norsk Hydro among others, all using Linux. There is work in progress on some big installations but it is too early to talk about these yet," said the Intel spokesman.
The cluster is located at Saudi Aramco's exploration building in Dhahran.
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