SGI technology delivers real-time casino management for Konami Gaming
SUNNYVALE, Calif., Jan. 24, 2007 -- Konami Gaming Inc., maker of player tracking software for the ubiquitous banks of slot machines and other games that greet visitors in America's casinos, relies on compute and storage technology from SGI to deliver real-time player feedback and casino management tools. Konami has installed 17 casino management systems with embedded Oracle(R) 9i Database across the United States. All of Konami's sites -- those with 300+ slot machines -- run on SGI(R) high-performance computing hardware. Konami plans to install at least seven more solutions based on SGI technology in the near future. All but three of the SGI hardware sites are running on SGI(R) Altix(R) 350 servers. The other three are running on SGI(R) Origin(R) 3200 systems, but will soon be migrated to the SGI Altix platform.
The one-armed bandit, a familiar electromechanical icon of casino gaming, has long since gone electronic, and slot machines now brim with possibilities, challenges, and feedback. Players insert an ID card, and the system not only tracks their bets, but prompts them about incentives and promotions. The same system tracks the play at other gambling venues -- tables, Keno, sports book, bingo -- so that the random I/O traffic through a typical 2,000-slot casino's player tracking system can reach millions of transactions per day. Running 24/7 without a break, the Konami Casino Management System (KCMS) on the SGI and Oracle platforms is tracking carded and uncarded game play and constantly updating every gamer's data trail. While Konami Gaming isn't the only company making player tracking software, it is the only company that can provide personalized real-time responses during every game. That capability, embodied in KCMS, is powered by the SGI Altix server and SGI(R) InfiniteStorage TP9300 and TP9500 systems.
"One of the big reasons why Konami continues to use SGI systems is that we may do millions of transactions a day at a casino," said Tom Soukup, Senior Director of R&D, Konami Gaming Inc. "It's a multitude of small transactions and random I/O-much like a small bank. We recently benchmarked a system from another vendor that was preferred by a customer. Real-time performance and I/O were terrible. The SGI InfiniteStorage TP9300 and TP9500 Fibre Channel disk subsystems that we use in our solutions can handle the random I/O extremely well. And unlike subsystems from some other vendors, we can configure them ourselves."
SGI Altix Endures Katrina
When customers praise the durability and ruggedness of SGI systems, they're generally referring to the stable and reliable architecture. The actual physical boxes and their content have proven to be incredibly rugged as well. Weeks before last year's Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, the President Casino barge in Biloxi, Miss., had just installed a Konami system for their 1,000 slots, including a 4-processor SGI Altix and a SGI InfiniteStorage 9100 system with 64 drives. Katrina's ocean surge lifted the barge up over land, across a highway and left it sitting atop a two-story Holiday Inn. When the gaming company decided to open another casino on the Biloxi riverfront, the SGI equipment was salvaged from its perch and brought to what is now the Silver Slipper Casino. To everyone's amazement, the system came up, the Oracle database was intact and everything worked fine. The Silver Slipper Casino opened November 9, using the Konami and SGI system that survived Katrina.
One example of the power of KCMS and SGI technology on dry land is Iowa City's Riverside Casino and Golf Resort, where 1,184 slot machines generate more than 14 million database inserts and updates every 24 hours. Most gaming management solutions are unable to track the progress of individual games, because they use server technology that lacks the necessary memory and I/O bandwidth. Konami uses SGI Altix servers to track the progress of every game and play denomination within a multi-game slot machine and give players the satisfaction of real-time feedback. Moreover, the casino knows the exact theoretical win by game instead of an average by slot device.
The combined KCMS, SGI and Oracle technology is so fast that casinos report players often see their points updated before the end of a spin, a serious achievement in the casino environment where players are almost always impatient. And, since most casinos don't have a large IT staff, Konami further differentiates itself by linking the customer's Altix systems by T-1 line to its Las Vegas headquarters, where administrators remotely maintain the server and the database.
In addition to gaming and real-time OLTP transactions, KCMS delivers reporting, analysis, and data mining capabilities that add to the I/O demands on the database server.
"Not only do you have to maintain real time to the floor," said Soukup, "but you've also got to mine the data for marketing and accounting purposes. We summarize a gaming day into multiple Oracle summary tables so our customers can use Oracle Discover for marketing analysis and slot analysis. The result is a mixed environment with online transaction processing and online analytical processing. However, the challenge is to do both and maintain real time to the slot floor. Our competitors need multiple servers to do this. We can do it all with the bandwidth of a single SGI Altix 350 server, and avoid the hassle of trying to keep several systems in sync."
Typically, the SGI Altix servers installed by Konami have 4-8 Intel(R) Itanium(R) 2 processors, a configuration suitable for casinos with 500 to 1,000 slot machines. Konami is also selling into larger casinos with 1,000 to 4,000 slots that require 8-16 processors, and this is another reason why Konami favors the scalable SGI(R) NUMAflex(TM) architecture. Their entire range of customers in the casino marketplace can be served with scalable SGI technology.
"The performance and availability of the SGI Altix platform, and a close working relationship between Oracle and SGI, have helped Konami to bring a more satisfying player experience -- and a more powerful, cost-effective management tool -- to its customers in the gaming industry," said James Tuleya, Enterprise Marketing Manager, SGI.
"Availability is of supreme importance to casinos, which have to deliver gaming experiences 24/7 every day of the year to keep customers happy and revenue flowing. Two or three hours' downtime at any hour of the day can mean a significant loss of income. An added benefit for Konami's customers is that SGI never outsources its service and is famous for the quality of SGI support," added Soukup.
SGI - Innovation for Results(TM)
SGI (Nasdaq: SGIC) is a leader in high-performance computing. SGI delivers a complete range of high-performance server and storage solutions along with industry-leading professional services and support that enable its customers to overcome the challenges of complex data-intensive workflows and accelerate breakthrough discoveries, innovation and information transformation. SGI helps customers solve their computing challenges whether it's enhancing the quality of life through drug research, designing and manufacturing safer and more efficient cars and airplanes, studying global climate, providing technologies for homeland security and defense, or helping enterprises manage large data. With offices worldwide, the company is headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., and can be found on the Web at http://www.sgi.com.
Silicon Graphics, SGI, Altix, Origin, NUMAFLEX, the SGI cube and the SGI logo are registered trademarks of Silicon Graphics, Inc., in the United States and/or other countries worldwide. Intel and Itanium are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. All other trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.
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