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Supercomputer boosts Sauber’s 2005 hopes 09 Dec 2004

ALBERT The Sauber Super Computer, Sauber Petronas Factory, Hinwil, Switzerland. 9 December 2004. World © Sauber Copyright Free

Sauber have unveiled a new supercomputer, adding further to the Swiss team’s aerodynamic development capabilities. It follows the opening of their state-of-the-art wind tunnel facility nine months ago, which helped them finish sixth in the 2004 championship.

The new machine, christened ‘ALBERT’ by the team, will be used in combination with the wind tunnel for Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) calculations, which serve to analyse and design aerodynamic components.

"Aerodynamics has been steadily gaining importance in recent years, accounting for roughly three quarters of the performance of a Formula One car today,” explained team boss Peter Sauber. “This also means that Computational Fluid Dynamics has become increasingly important.”

CFD plays a particularly critical role in the development of the front, rear and other wings on a Formula One car, as well as being a vital tool for thermal analysis and brake cooling development. It does not compete with but rather complements the work in the wind tunnel.

For example, during the development of a new front wing, Sauber will evaluate up to 100 variants two-dimensionally before about six are analysed in three-dimensional form. The most promising versions are subsequently built as 60-percent scale models and tested in the wind tunnel.

"By building the new wind tunnel we started a new offensive in the field of aerodynamics,” added Sauber. “The launch of the supercomputer represents another step in the same direction. All of these efforts are aiming in the same direction: We intend to improve our performance and further reduce the distance between ourselves and the front runners."

Sauber have been working with a supercomputer for years. However, the growing complexity of the tasks has drastically raised the demands made on computing power. Hence, the new supercomputer is nearly 30 times more powerful than the one previously used by the team, dramatically reducing computing times as well as enabling much more complex tasks to be solved.

The machine has over 1,085,440 megabytes of physical memory and over 10,880 gigabytes of hard drive storage. For non-computer experts, this means that ALBERT is capable of performing 2,332,000,000,000 computing operations per second. To achieve the same computing performance, the entire population of the city of Zurich would have to multiply two eight-digit figures every four seconds for a whole year.

Sauber has established technology partnership agreements with the four companies behind the supercomputer. It was built by Swiss firm DALCO and runs on AMD processors installed in High-Density Cooling Enclosures supplied by American Power Conversion. The software is provided by Fluent.