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BMW Sauber reveal new supercomputer 15 Dec 2006

BMW Sauber F1 Team presents the new Albert2 Super-Computers (Supercomputing and CFD in F1) from Intel EMEAat Hinwil, Switzerland. Christian Morales, VP & General Manager, Intel EMEA with Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director. 14 December 2006. © BMW AG.

BMW Sauber unveiled a new supercomputer at their Hinwil factory in Switzerland this week. The machine, christened ‘Albert 2’, will be used in combination with the team’s wind tunnel for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) calculations, used in the analysis and design of aerodynamic components.

"Aerodynamics has a crucial influence on the performance of modern Formula One cars, with experimental work in the wind tunnel and computational fluid dynamics complementing each other,” explained Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director. “Unlike other teams, we are not planning to build a second wind tunnel but will continue to bank on the consistently expanding potential in this area. For the new season, we have set the goal of further reducing the gap to the top.”

CFD plays a particularly critical role in the development of the front, rear and other wings on a Formula One car. Albert 2 will be used principally to calculate the benefits of various aerodynamic components, before models of the most promising are tested in the wind tunnel. The immense power of the new supercomputer means the team will be able to perform calculations more accurately and at a much faster rate.

The new machine is on average around three times faster than its predecessor, Albert, and can perform12,288,000,000,000 arithmetic operations per second. For non-computer experts, an equal level of computing performance would be achieved if the entire population of the German city of Munich (1.3 million) multiplied two eight-digit numbers every three and a half seconds for a whole year.

"Thanks to Albert 2 we can calculate more variants and more complex models which, in the end, results in an advantage on the stop watch,” explained Willem Toet, head of aerodynamics for BMW Sauber. “Of particular benefit is the system's good scalability which gives us a very high level of flexibility. A major advantage of CFD is the ability to simulate the air flow, which enables us to understand why one part is better than another. Consequently, there is a cross fertilization between simulation and experimental aerodynamics."

Of course, such computing power doesn’t come in a PC-sized box. Albert 2 is nine metres long and weighs 21 tonnes.