F1 racers boost performance with Linux

By   |  February 7, 2005

When the BMW Williams Formula One team set out to design a better car for the 2005 season they turned to supercomputers running Linux to get a much needed edge. Using the HP supercomputer infrastructure at the HP Labs in Bristol, the team were able to assess more than twice as many aerodynamic models this year as they have been able to do so in previous years, resulting in the brand new FW27 car.

Using the centre, the design team were able to perform design simulations of 1.3 terabytes of aerodynamic data (one terabyte is a billion bytes, equivalent to 69 333 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica). The results of the simulations allowed the team to optimise solutions for front and rear wings, brake ducts and radiator ducts without the expense and time of fabrication or wind tunnel testing.

The utility computing facility at HP Labs includes a newly installed 4000 Supercomputer system which was the primary system used by the Williams F1 design team.

Sam Michael, technical director at WilliamsF1, said the team benefited from being able to run complex predictions on their designs. \”Prediction, using computational fluid dynamics, was our main tool to assess the implications of the new FIA rules for the 2005 season, and to consider a wide range of potential solutions. Together with our partner HP, we have scaled up our computational resource by a factor of three. We augmented our in-house capability with the use of HP\’s Bristol Labs utility computing facility, which allows us to run computations using external resource at peak load times, such as during the new car design phase.\”

HP also provided further support in structural analysis and crash test simulations for the FW27, which were carried out in-house at Grove using HP Integrity systems. WilliamsF1 engineers are using the HP Labs utility computing facility to take structural and crash analysis to a new level of fidelity by creating sophisticated models of carbon fiber, which demands a tenfold increase in computer power.

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