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Williams Supercomputer Up and Running

Lenovo Supercomputer for WilliamsWilliams published a press release yesterday saying that their new Lenovo Supercomputer is up and running. While many will say so what, this is an important step in Williams climbing the slippery slope back to winning, a very difficult task.

Basically this computer will allow Williams to do a lot more CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics, which in effect means that they can do much better wind tunnel analysis, without actually spending time in the wind tunnel, which means huge savings for the team in these days for F1 wind tunnel madness.

This is the reason you are seeing so many partnerships that have been announced between Formula One teams and computing companies. These partnerships allow the computer companies to work on and develop the absolute in high end computing, and allow the teams to get access to testing for new models without having to build huge new wind tunnels, or expensive wind tunnel car and component models. It’s a win win situation, even without all the publicity that is generated on both sides. These days, computer companies and Formula One are the perfect partners.

On to the press release:

Lenovo today announced the successful installation of a powerful supercomputer for ATT Williams, now being used in the racing team’s wind tunnel simulation facilities in the UK.

ATT Williams and Lenovo collaborated on the customized supercomputing solution, designed to optimize the aerodynamics of the team’s Formula One cars.

“Aerodynamics plays a critical role in determining how competitive we are for each of the race circuits we visit,” said Alex Burns, chief operating officer, ATT Williams. “The optimum balance of downforce and drag varies between different circuits, so the aerodynamics at Monaco — lots of tight corners with few straights — are very different from Monza, which has few corners but lots of long straights. The increase in supercomputing power from Lenovo will give us the capability to examine a greater range of design variations between races, which will increase our development rate, bringing more performance to the car sooner.”

The supercomputer is being used for operations in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), performing billions of calculations that simulate airflow around a virtual model of a three-dimensional, on-track racing car. This process will help predict how even the smallest changes in component shape and placement will affect drag and downforce, with resulting impacts on speed and handling.

With a peak performance of eight teraflops (trillion floating point operations per second), the Lenovo supercomputer is four times more powerful than the team’s previous solution. This will enable the team to speed up the process of aerodynamic simulation by approximately 75 percent.

“Aerodynamics has been steadily gaining importance in recent years, accounting for roughly three quarters of the performance of a Formula One car today,” Burns said. “The tremendous increase in power delivered by the Lenovo supercomputer will allow us to perform the same tasks we do today in a quarter of the time.”

The team uses the supercomputer to examine numerous aerodynamic variables, such as surface geometry, wheel turbulence and track surface. For example, the team can analyze the effects of adjusting the curvature of the car’s surface, with the goal of improving the generation of downforce and the reduction of drag.

The aerodynamic simulations are being done in combination with experimental techniques in the team’s two wind tunnels. Computer-generated tests will enable the ATT Williams team to focus resources on building the most promising solutions for testing in the wind tunnel and on track.

“The high-performance computing solution developed for ATT Williams is the latest example of Lenovo capabilities in world-class engineering and research,” said Deepak Advani, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Lenovo. “We’re excited about providing a supercomputing solution that delivers the power and speed necessary for ATT Williams to stay competitive in the most technologically advanced sport in the world.”

This agreement is an extension of the relationship between Lenovo and ATT Williams. At the beginning of the 2007 race season, Lenovo announced its support as an Official Partner of ATT Williams. The team uses Lenovo PC technology in every facet of its business, from ignition to inventory.

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