Airbus Rides Modular Computing Approach to Petascale

By Tiffany Trader

July 9, 2014

Airbus is set to increase its high-performance computing (HPC) capabilities by building on the partnership started with HP in 2011. The aircraft manufacturer will receive a new generation of HP Performance Optimized Datacenters (PODs), boosting its computing capacity to 1.2 petaflops.

HP’s new PODs for Airbus come with pre-integrated clusters of HP ProLiant server blades featuring Intel’s latest processor to enable Airbus to increase HPC capacity while saving energy and space. HP says the new technology will use half as much energy per teraflop as the current system.

The PODs measure 12 meters in length, the equivalent of 1,000 square meters of traditional datacenter space according to HP, and come equipped with 22 50-unit high racks. Each container features the full HP Converged Infrastructure, including blade servers, storage, networking, software, management and integrated power and cooling.

The HP PODs will be delivered to Toulouse, France, and Hamburg, Germany. The upgrade is part of a five-year collaboration with HP, that includes increasing compute capacity, improving datacenter cooling technology and upgrading IT infrastructure.

“We are pleased to build on our supercomputing partnership with HP,” says Guus Dekkers, CIO of Airbus. “Over the next five years, HP will continue to enhance our PODs by boosting capacity and raising energy efficiency while providing increased availability, resilience and security. This will further support Airbus engineering teams in aircraft development.”

Airbus has been relying on the containerized datacenter approach to provide the computational power needed to design and build next-generation aircrafts since 2011. The original deal with HP doubled Airbus’ computing capacity with 2,016 clustered HP ProLiant BL280 G6 blade servers installed in two containers. The 244 teraflops “supercomputer” (the measurement combined the Toulouse and Hamburg installations) was one of the largest industrial systems at the time, placing 29th on the June 2011 TOP500 list.

According to Dekkers, the HP PODs were selected because of their compliance with French and German security and environmental legislation as well as Airbus policies.

HP’s Enterprise Services team has configured the new HPC clusters and is integrating them with the existing Airbus IT infrastructure. One of the perks of the modular design is rapid deployment. HP states that these datacenters can be built, tested and delivered within six weeks.

Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is a global enterprise of approximately 55,000 employees with offices and subsidiaries around the world.

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