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Fine Tuning Aerodynamics
Posted Wed September 22, 2004 @08:17AM
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News Linux Networx has posted an article [pdf] on the use of CFD and cluster computing at Orbital Sciences.

Like many aerospace companies and organizations, Orbital Sciences depends on CFD; specifically, the company is using it to predict how rockets and satellites will perform in various environments. CFD works by turning the region of flow into discrete cubic-like cells. The governing fluid equations are then used to set up a large matrix, which can then be solved using a high-performance computer system.

In the past, Orbital had been limited by a computer system that would get bogged down, resulting in a significant slowdown for CFD problems that could involve more than one million cells.

“In the case where a larger problem was deemed mission critical, there invariably was a need to justify the cost of outsourcing smaller problems that had to be completed, including projected payback on the outsourced engineering work,” said Richard Straka, Vice President and Chief Engineer of Orbital’s Launch Systems Group. “Ultimately these justification efforts pulled engineering talent from its core competencies to convince management to spend the money necessary to support the outsourced CFD.”

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The inefficiencies of its existing system ultimately led Orbital to consider a new computing architecture, specifically a Linux cluster. “We wanted a system that had linear scalability with CPUs and could grow with us as computational demands increased. Linux clusters provided us with that capability,” said Straka.

Because Fluent is a major component of Orbital’s design process, it was important that the cluster vendor the company chose understood both the CFD and aerospace industries, had experience with Fluent, and had experience deploying Fluent based clusters.

Read the full article at Linux Networx.

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