In motorsports, vehicle designers are constantly looking for the tiniest sliver of time to shave off through some clever piece of engineering – but as the low-hanging fruit gets snatched up, those advances are getting more and more difficult to achieve. Now, D2H Advanced Technologies – an engineering firm with efforts in sports like NASCAR – is working with the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) to use supercomputing to supercharge its design work.
Much of this is computational fluid dynamics (CFD) work, studying how air flows through and around the various components of a motorsports vehicle. “Every millimeter cell around the car, we get the pressure, the velocity, vorticity, all of these parameters we need to tell what’s going on so that we can then go and make changes to the car,” said Darren Davies, CEO of D2H Advanced Technologies. “Our models are an order of magnitude larger and more refined – amongst the most complicated and most detailed CFD models that anybody runs, commercial or industrial.”
The engineers are utilizing OSC’s on-demand HPC resources (fittingly, run through a portal called OSC OnDemand). OSC OnDemand includes clusters running Intel Xeon CPUs. Its latest deployment – a cluster called Pitzer – includes 658 Dell EMC PowerEdge nodes with Intel Xeon 8268 and 6148 CPUs. Using these heavy-duty HPC environments allowed D2H to reduce the number of real-world wind tunnel tests, which are costly in terms of time and money.
“They had already tested a vehicle in the wind tunnel,” Davies said of one recent manufacturer. “The planning and execution of the tests took months, and I would estimate that it cost them between $30,000 and $40,000. They gave us the same problem in CFD on OSC and we turned it around within a few days at a cost in the low single-figure thousands of dollars, proving that CFD testing would have been much faster and better value, without detracting at all from the accuracy of the results.”
Initially, D2H had only planned on using OSC’s resources as a backup, following a suggestion from a new hire who hailed from OSC’s home turf – but field results quickly led D2H to elevate OSC to a leading role.
“Over the last year, OSC has stretched ahead, and comfortably so,” Davies said. “The true on-demand service with low wait times is unique. We don’t have that anywhere else. And that’s what keeps OSC ahead of everyone else right now. … It’s still good for us to have two providers, but right now, OSC is the stronger proposition and is our ‘go to’ provider of HPC resources.”