Spain’s MareNostrum 4, housed at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), is helping to design the aerodynamics of every new car that Spanish automobile manufacturer SEAT is building, optimizing the vehicle’s safety features and helping to reduce emissions.
Instead of using the traditional method of using a clay model of the car in a wind tunnel to design the car’s aerodynamics, SEAT engineers are leveraging the MareNostrum 4 supercomputer and streamlining the process by analyzing the undercarriage, tires and wheels, and front and rear end of the car.
“Working with a wind tunnel is expensive and clay models deteriorate, so constant changes have to be made,” María García-Navas, an engineer in SEAT’s Department of Development and Aerodynamics, said.
The company’s engineers save months of work by being able to analyze multiple parameters in a matter of hours with MareNostrum 4 given that every change increases the cost of testing and developing the vehicle. “With SEAT, I study the impact of wheel hub geometry on the aerodynamics of the cars,” BSC researcher Oriol Lehmkuhl said. “Each point is analyzed by a set of processors working in parallel. If they were analyzed individually, it would take months.”
This type of work now just takes hours to complete. MareNostrum 4 is facilitating the process because of its ability to compute so much information in a short period of time. (Video)
“The computing power of the BSC supercomputer enables us to include more parameters to see how air behaves inside the rims when the wheels are moving. The idea is to increasingly narrow the gap between simulation and reality,” García-Navas said.
Built by Lenovo in 2017, MareNostrum 4 spans 48 racks with 3,456 nodes, incorporating 165,888 Intel Xeon processors, and a main memory of 390 terabytes. In 2004, after the Spanish government and IBM agreed to build Europe’s fastest computer, MareNostrum 1 was deployed, reaching 42.35 teraflops. Multiple upgrades and iterations later, today’s MareNostrum 4 has a peak power of 11.15 petaflops (Linpack: 6.5 petaflops) and is part of the Spanish Supercomputing Network. At number 25 on the Top500 list, the system is the fastest in Spain and seventh-fastest in Europe. An upgrade to MareNostrum 5 is underway with a planned peak performance of 200 petaflops.
MareNostrum 4 is used in almost all disciplines for the purpose to generate scientific knowledge, including vehicle aerodynamics. A member of the Volkswagen Group, SEAT – with headquarters in Barcelona (Martorell) – exports 80 percent of its vehicles and in 2018 sold 517,600 cars.
Images and video courtesy SEAT.