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August 5, 2010

HPC Technology Makes Car Safety Job 1

Nicole Hemsoth

Auto companies are increasingly turning to computer simulations to figure out how to build safer cars, according to a recent article in Computerworld. And thanks to more powerful HPC machines and advanced crash simulation software, the use of such systems for safety engineering appears to be on the rise. GM, Ford, Honda, Mercedes Benz and other companies are now using this technology to good effect.

According to the article, some of the most popular software for crash simulations are Altair’s Radioss, ESI Group’s PAM-Crash, and Livermore Software Technology Corp’s LS-Dyna. And as the underlying computer systems get more powerful (not to mention less expensive), more refined simulations become possible:

…For many common computer simulations, such as one vehicle crashing into another, carmakers have the supercomputing power they need in-house. Altair has publicly demonstrated that even a complex simulation of a full crash test with 1 million elements can take just five minutes to render using a cluster of Intel Xeon 5500 processors.

For example, using the latest HPC technology has enabled GM to move to an interactive design process for the entire vehicle, and run a simulation with up to four million elements, while the competition at American Honda has more than 3000 processors devoted to crash analysis. And in Germany, Mercedes-Benz is now running approximately 5,000 crash simulations for every new vehicle design.

The ultimate goal is a zero-fatality vehicle. But while that may be elusive, even in the era of petaflop supercomputing, more sophisticated HPC technology should help make much safer cars a reality in the not too distant future.

Full story at Computerworld