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Scientific Programming
Volume 17 (2009), Issue 1-2, Pages 185-198

3D Seismic Imaging through Reverse-Time Migration on Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Multi-Core Processors

Mauricio Araya-Polo,1 Félix Rubio,1 Raúl de la Cruz,1 Mauricio Hanzich,1 José María Cela,1 and Daniele Paolo Scarpazza2

1Barcelona Supercomputing Center, Barcelona, Spain
2IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY, USA

Copyright © 2009 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Reverse-Time Migration (RTM) is a state-of-the-art technique in seismic acoustic imaging, because of the quality and integrity of the images it provides. Oil and gas companies trust RTM with crucial decisions on multi-million-dollar drilling investments. But RTM requires vastly more computational power than its predecessor techniques, and this has somewhat hindered its practical success. On the other hand, despite multi-core architectures promise to deliver unprecedented computational power, little attention has been devoted to mapping efficiently RTM to multi-cores. In this paper, we present a mapping of the RTM computational kernel to the IBM Cell/B.E. processor that reaches close-to-optimal performance. The kernel proves to be memory-bound and it achieves a 98% utilization of the peak memory bandwidth. Our Cell/B.E. implementation outperforms a traditional processor (PowerPC 970MP) in terms of performance (with an 15.0× speedup) and energy-efficiency (with a 10.0× increase in the GFlops/W delivered). Also, it is the fastest RTM implementation available to the best of our knowledge. These results increase the practical usability of RTM. Also, the RTM-Cell/B.E. combination proves to be a strong competitor in the seismic arena.