VR - lab: High Performance Visualization and Computing

Huge amounts of data and demanding computational tasks are typical for many of the petroleum disciplines. Through a close collaboration with Norsk Hydro, the department has been able to install a floor-to-ceiling Virtual Reality laboratory, with a dedicated 32-processor SGI computer. The laboratory is used primarily for visualization of seismic data and reservoir fluid flow. Other applications are under development. We have close collaboration with other departments at NTNU, such as medicine and computer science.


Visualization of complex reservoir data is becoming a key to reservoir characterization and planning of production. Virtually all oil companies and service companies are installing visualization facilities, and it is of critical importance that universities are at the front of the development, both in exposing students to the visualization technology in their basic training, as well as in being key developers of methods for visualization of reservoir data.

In recognition of this fact, NTNU has installed a state-of-art visualization facility. It became operational in May 2001 at the Department of Petroleum Engineering and Applied Geophysics. This is the first large-scale visualization laboratory at a Norwegian university, and the first CAVE-solution in Norway outside Norsk Hydro in Bergen. This installation was financed by Norsk Hydro and The Norwegian Research Council. In addition, Norsk Hydro has made available the software package Inside Earth, which was developed by Norsk Hydro and Christian Michelsen Research over the past 5 years, and is marketed by Inside Reality A.S., which later has been acquired by Schlumberger. A second installation includes a mini-visionarium based on CYVIZ passive stereo solution was installed at NTNU in 2001 financed by Statoil.

Description of the visualization facilities at NTNU



The key element of the CLVR-lab is The RAVE, a reconfigurable unit manufactured by the US company Fakespace Inc. The unit consists of 3 separate modules, one of which with floor projection. The RAVE may be configured as a 4-walled 2.5m cubed CAVE, a 7.5m by 2.5m flat wall, a theatre with arbitrary angle, or may be used as 3 independent flat walls of 2.5m squared. Thus, the unit may be used for total immersion for a small group of people, as a theatre, as a large flat screen for a large group of people, or as 3 independent flat screens used by project groups.

The computer driving the RAVE is a 32-CPU SGI Onyx2 with 2 Infinite Reality 3 pipes, each with 4 Raster Managers with 256 MB RAM.

Visualization software currently installed includes the primary visualization application for reservoir data, e.g. InsideReality, VoxelGeo, Glview CAVE, SGI Vizserver and SGI Volumizer.

The Multi-Disciplinary Collaboration at NTNU

In order to establish a broader basis for visualization usage and research at NTNU, a group of academic departments collaborates in development of visualization at NTNU. The partners include Medicine, Architecture, Product Design, Arts and Media, Geology, Computer Sciences (IDI), and Petroleum. Other partners will be invited, and discussions have been started with the Acustics group at NTNU, in order to include 3D sound in the developments. In addition to The RAVE and the SGI computer, the visualization equipment also include 6 high performance graphical Pc’s with two displays, connected to the SGI computer, located at the partners’ premises. A ConCave (from Fakespace) has been added at IDI. Other units for visualization located at Medicine and Computer Science will be added in the spring of 2003. An auditorium equipped for passive stereo visualization that can seat more than 100 students will be operational in 2003.

Labs and other facilities

Hydrate - laboratory / calorimeter laboratory
Research laboratories
Student laboratories

Control room / Integrated Operations room
Servers & computer halls
Mechanical workshop
Electronics workshop

Conference & meeting rooms
Canteen/coffee bar
Lecture rooms