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May 2005

Peak performance

HP super computes car design for BMW WilliamsF1 team


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BMW WilliamsF1
BMW WilliamsF1

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Not only did HP technology help build the car, it also helps the BMW WilliamsF1 Team control it during a race.

by Brent Gregston

The BMW WilliamsF1 auto-racing team was in a fix. New racing regulations for 2005 required changes to its cars that could have reduced nearly 30 percent of the car's total downforce.

That could have meant a difficult racing season for BMW WilliamsF1, but HP and HP Labs were able to help, providing cutting-edge utility computing technologies that gave the team the computing boost it needed to redesign its cars in time.

Thanks in part to HP, BMW WilliamsF1 was able to perform the compute-intense computational fluid dynamics prediction needed to make design changes in time for the European season, now heading into the challenging Monaco Grand Prix.

Speed of design

"Prediction, using computational fluid dynamics, was our main tool to assess the implications of the new FIA rules for the 2005 season, and to consider a wide range of potential solutions," says Sam Michael, technical director at WilliamsF1. "Together with our partner HP, we scaled up our computational resource by a factor of three."

The 2005 BMW WilliamsF1Team car, the FW27, was designed, and thousands of race simulations conducted, by an HP supercomputer. The car is competing in 2005 armed with a new chassis and a new engine.

New regulations for 2005 required BMW WilliamsF1 Team to raise the front wing by 50 mm, to move the rear wing forward 150 mm and to reduce the diffuser height significantly. In addition, the floor in front of the rear tire had to be cut away.

These changes could have slowed the team down, but the BMW WilliamsF1 Team and HP Labs Bristol – which has conducted extensive research in utility computing -- rose to the challenge. Using HP Labs technology and HP utility computing, the WilliamsF1 design team was able to assess twice as many aerodynamic models in computational fluid dynamics this year than ever before.

Performance for peak demand

The aerodynamic and structural characteristics of the FW27 were modeled on a powerful HP Linux cluster at WilliamsF1 UK headquarters in Grove. The HP Bristol Labs facility, which provides enterprise customers with a 'pay-as-you-go' resource, acted as 'surge capacity' for WilliamsF1, managing peaks in workload, allowing the team to perform numerous additional simulations of the FW27 car.

"We augmented our in-house capability with the use of HP’s Bristol Labs utility computing facility, which allows us to run computations using external resource at peak load times, such as during the new car design phase," says Michaels.

HP technology enabled the team to perform design simulation of 1.3 terabytes of aerodynamic data (the equivalent of about 69,000 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica). The results of the simulations allowed the team to optimize solutions for front and rear wings, brake ducts and radiator ducts without the expense and time of fabrication or wind tunnel testing.

Crash testing

WilliamsF1 engineers also used the HP Labs utility computing facility to take structural and crash analysis to a new level of fidelity by creating sophisticated models of carbon fiber, which demands a tenfold increase in computer power.

Structural integrity of all Formula One cars is a specific requirement under the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) regulations, and therefore plays a key part in the design of the FW27. Structural integrity and crash test simulations were carried out in-house at WilliamsF1 UK headquarters in Grove.

Gavin Fisher, chief designer, WilliamsF1 says that "HP's technology has brought the design team major improvements year on year and 2005 marks a significant escalation in this relationship. Access to HP Labs has played a considerable role in the design and crash testing possibilities for the new FW27 car."

Racing technology support

HP is entering its sixth year as principal sponsor of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team.

Since 2000, HP has been the technology behind the BMW WilliamsF1 Team, providing a comprehensive range of products, technologies, solutions and services. These include: Linux-based supercomputing solutions, wireless local area network (wLAN), mobility computing, as well as printing and imaging technologies, which support the team across car design, performance management, manufacturing and telemetry.

Not only did HP technology help build the car, it also helps the BMW WilliamsF1 Team control it during a race. Advanced HP service solutions will provide the BMW WilliamsF1 Team with 24-hour trackside support at all 19 Grand Prix races around the globe.

An Open View Storage mirroring system has now replaced the team's Storage Area Network, allowing for the transfer of updated information rather than entire files. As a result, live information is zapped more rapidly and more reliably to the BMW WilliamsF1 Team from the Grand Prix track, enabling race changes to be made more quickly.

"HP is committed to further developing the partnership that started in 2000 with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team," says Andrew Collis, director, Global Sports Sponsorship, HP.
" It is our aim to provide the team with the breadth and depth of technical expertise that HP has, making an invaluable contribution to their performance.

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