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FLUENT and Supercomputers– The Driving Force in Formula 1 Aerodynamics
Posted Tue December 14, 2004 @12:31PM
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News Fluent Inc., world leader in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software and services, announced today that its software is to be used on the new supercomputer “Albert” of the Formula 1 Motor Racing Team Sauber Petronas in Hinwil, Switzerland.

“Albert” is powered by 530 AMD 64-bit Opteron™ processors and is currently among the most powerful computers being used within Formula 1 and the automotive industry as a whole. CFD is already recognized as a key factor in the battle for valuable World Championship points in Formula 1 and it is gaining even more importance with this announcement by Team Sauber Petronas.

“If you look at all the factors in Formula 1 that can be influenced with engineering, more than 70 percent is aerodynamics,“ reveals team principal, Peter Sauber and Willy Rampf, the Technical Director, adds: “Success in F1 requires world-class computational fluid dynamics and a cutting edge aerodynamic team that works with the best tools available at the technical forefront.”

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Fluent has a proven track record of success in Formula 1 stretching back to 1992 when the world championship winning aerodynamics department at Benetton Formula 1 started to use Fluent’s CFD software for the first time. Today, Fluent’s software is used by 7 out of 10 Formula 1 Teams to design their cars. It lets teams generate a “virtual computer model” of any flow in and around their racecars, and is therefore much more than just a “digital wind tunnel” with the known limitations of small-scale wind tunnel testing. Fluent’s CFD software allows for actual race situations with 1:1 models to be simulated realistically, and this is increasingly the vision of the future for leading F1 Teams.

Together with Fluent’s CFD software this new high performance computer will be the heart of the CFD department at Sauber. It was delivered to Sauber by the Swiss company DALCO and its 530 AMD 64-bit Opteron ™ processors are based within a housing made with a special integrated cooling system supplied by American Power Conversion (APC).

This new supercomputer and the 3 year relationship between Team Sauber and Fluent Deutschland, plus Fluent’s other long-term agreements with leading Formula 1 Teams illustrates Fluent’s pre-eminence in this field. These collaborations are also commitments from Fluent to deliver the most powerful CFD software together with the appropriate supporting know-how needed to define new technical car design standards in Formula 1 Motor Racing.

“Formula 1 in so many ways sets standards and Fluent always wants to operate at the upper limit of technological innovation,” says Udo Weinmann, General Manager of Fluent Deutschland. “Our cooperation with the leading Formula 1 Teams is of vital importance to our software development and invariably we find that CFD applications in other industries benefit directly from the technological advances demanded by Formula 1 motor racing. This has a direct impact on the CFD software we deliver to our other industries which range across chemical and processing, power and environmental, aerospace and HVAC, materials and even medical,” he adds.

Supercomputing with Fluent software enables the Sauber team primarily to create “virtual models” and therefore optimize the aerodynamics of Sauber Formula 1 cars more effectively. This in turn leads to better use of the available wind tunnel hours and increases the critical design period they have to operate in. Besides improving aerodynamics, CFD is being used to optimize brake cooling, gas tank filling and various other engine component cooling activities in Formula 1. These requirements can only be accomplished effectively, within the demanding timescales of the F1 season, through the use of high computing power from platforms such as “Albert”.

CFD simulations at Sauber until quite recently have been using computational grids up to 100 million cells. Now with Sauber’s new supercomputer a multiple of that number is possible and its ability to simulate more detailed models means that the level of detail of the CFD predictions will be enhanced. Similarly, a lot more parameters can be studied and verified in “Albert” more quickly than before due to the reduced overall compute time it offers. In addition, with supercomputers more complex driving situations within the automotive industry, such as overtaking maneuvers, can now be simulated which are not possible at all in the wind tunnel. A “Dynamic Mesh” capability unique to Fluent’s CFD software allows for overtaking to be simulated and it also permits any guided or free movement of a component to be modeled so that moving pistons in a cylinder or even valve movements can be studied.

“FLUENT software forms the basis for an optimal usage of our new supercomputer", says Torbjörn Larsson, Head of CFD at Sauber, adding that: “The computational efficiency and accuracy of Fluent’s software, combined with its functionality and flexibility, have allowed us to efficiently integrate CFD into our development process."

“Albert” is powered by 530 AMD 64-bit Opteron™ processors.


Flow pathlines
Flow pathlines around a Formula 1 car.


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