Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Airbus Looks to HPC-as-a-Service to Power Engineering Simulations 

Airbus doubles its supercomputing power with HP's Performance Optimized Datacenters (PODs).

At the end of September, HP announced that Airbus, a well-known aircraft manufacturer, had doubled its supercomputing power using HP's Performance Optimized Datacenters (PODs). In light of this development, HPCwire's Michael Feldman spoke with Airbus to get their side of the story. The feature article provides a nice encapsulation of Airbus's foray into the world of HPC-as-a-Service, and is a must read for any outfit considering this type of computing infrastructure.

A380 Airbus engineBeing a major aircraft manufacturer, Airbus relies on the power of high-performance computing for its engineering simulation work. The field of aircraft design is a natural fit for high-end computer simulation. The array of compute-intensive tasks cited in the article include "wind tunnel aerodynamics, aircraft structure design, composite material design, strength analysis, and acoustic modeling for both the interior of the aircraft and the exterior engine noise."

Airbus used to run its equations on in-house supercomputers, but that changed in 2007 when the company concluded it would be more cost-effective to rent cycles. They tried IBM's off-site solution for a while, but that approach suffered from bandwidth constraints. Thus, in 2009, Airbus entered into a contract with HP to provide its containerized on-premise solution. Since the Performance Optimized Datacenters — or PODS — are in close proximity to the company's main computer facility, latency and bandwidth are not a concern.

The agreement with HP included multiple POD systems, one of which, located in Toulouse, achieved a 29th spot rating on the most current TOP500 list, and according to the HP press release, is the "the world's largest industrial HPC system."

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