SILICON GRAPHICS' PARALLEL PROCESSING SYSTEMS SPEED UNITED'S FLIGHT CREW SCHEDULING
SILICON GRAPHICS' PARALLEL PROCESSING SYSTEMS SPEED UNITED'S
FLIGHT CREW SCHEDULING
Compute-Intensive Application Moves From IBM Mainframe To
IRIS POWER Series Servers
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Nov. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Silicon Graphics Inc. (NYSE: SGI) today announced that United Airlines is using Silicon Graphics' parallel processing IRIS POWER Series(TM) servers to optimize flight crew scheduling for it 2,000 daily flights worldwide. The crew scheduling system, previously run on an IBM 3090 mainframe, is the largest parallel processing application in the airline industry.
United Airlines, which maintains one of the world's largest commercial aircraft fleets, is using two POWER Series 4D/340 and two 4D/360 systems to coordinate the scheduling of its 7,500 pilots, 15,000 flight attendants and 480 planes around the world. The multiprocessor servers are connected to 52X terminals through an extended network. The servers process data 24 hours a day, creating and refining schedules to maximize crew resources.
"Flight crew scheduling is the most compute-intensive task in the airline business," said Stephan Regulinski, director of corporate research and development at United Airlines. "The application previously consumed a large chunk of our mainframe's resources. When we decided to offload the mainframe and move to UNIX and parallel processing, the choice was fairly obvious -- no one could offer the technology as well and as cost-effectively as Silicon Graphics."
Crew scheduling requires tremendous processing power because of the astronomical number of feasible crew schedules and because each schedule is difficult to construct. Each month, crews are scheduled to minimize what airlines call "credit hours" -- time that crew members spend waiting on the ground for their next flight and for which they must be paid. The goal is to create efficient "pairings", or combinations of flight segments up to four days in length, that take and return crew members to home cities with the fewest credit hours. Because flight crews are an airline's largest direct operating cost aside from fuel, poor crew scheduling can significantly impact profits.
"On the mainframe, it could take up to a week to create a crew schedule for the most complex flight schedule -- leaving little time to adapt to constant flight schedule changes," said Regulinski. "With the parallel processing capabilities of the POWER Series servers, we can adapt more quickly to changes in the flight schedule, ultimately creating a lower-cost crew schedule."
"United Airlines' crew scheduling is an ideal example of how a commercial production application can exploit UNIX, RISC, and symmetric multiprocessing capabilities," said Thomas Jermoluk, executive vice president of Silicon Graphics Inc. "Over the next few years, we will see significant expansion in applications taking advantage of these technologies."
Silicon Graphics Inc. is the leading manufacturer of visual processing computer systems. The company delivers three-dimensional graphics, color and real-time technologies to the technical, scientific and creative computing marketplace. Silicon Graphic Inc. has offices worldwide and headquarters in Mountain View.
/CONTACT: Rosanne Siino of Silicon Graphics Inc., 415-335-1029/
(SGI) CO: Silicon Graphics, Inc.; United Airlines ST: California IN: CPR AIR SU: DB -- SJ004 -- 4781 11/19/91 08:30 EST