The University of Southampton by MicrosoftCaseStudies


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									                                              Microsoft Server Product Portfolio
                                              Customer Solution Case Study

                                              University Technology Centre Uses High-
                                              Performance Solution for Aerodynamic Design

                                              “Tests of Windows HPC Server 2008 have shown that it
Customer: University of Southampton
Web Site:                    delivers accurate results with no compromise on speed
Number of Employees: 20
Country or Region: United Kingdom
                                              compared with the previous Linux implementation
Industry: Education                           used by the centre.”
Partner: Rolls-Royce
                                              Prof. Andy Keane, Head, Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre (UTC) for Computational
                                                                                                   Engineering, Southampton University
Customer Profile
The University of Southampton is one
of the top 10 research universities in        The University of Southampton in the U.K. houses the Rolls-
the U.K. and has achieved consistently
high scores for teaching and learning.        Royce University Technology Centre (UTC) for Computational
                                              Engineering. The centre undertakes aerodynamic research and
Software and Services
 Microsoft Server Product Portfolio          design using a range of advanced Rolls-Royce structural and
  − Windows HPC Server 2008                   fluid flow prediction methods. To operate the increasingly
                                              complex computational needs of this work—currently the
                                              Spitfire cluster has around 650 central processing unit (CPU)
                                              cores—the centre adopted Windows® HPC Server 2008.

                                              Business Needs                                A typical analysis conducted by a team
                                              The Rolls-Royce University Technology         member can take from a few hours to
                                              Centre (UTC) for Computational                several days to solve, often involving
                                              Engineering at Southampton University         multicore, multiprocessor computations
                                              consists of 20 staff, all working on          making use of either multithreading or
                                              complex computational problems, which         Message Passing Interface (MPI) parallel
                                              results in high demand for                    computing approaches.
                                              computational resources. The team’s
                                              main aim is to apply modern                   Taking into account the design context,
                                              computational tools, methods and              where many variants must be
For more information about other              environments to problems in aerospace         considered and compared, this leads to
Microsoft customer successes, please visit:
                                              engineering and related fields for the        the need for massive parallel computing
                                              benefit of Rolls-Royce.                       systems. At the same time, the team
needs to be flexible, moving resources as                           to study for PhDs. The UTC found that        options that allow heterogeneous nodes
research priorities change.                                         students have little experience of           to be used to maximum efficiency.
                                                                    computing using Linux technology,
As in most engineering activities, budgets                          having used Windows-based systems               Excellent performance. The work of
are tight and there is limited funding for                          throughout their undergraduate                   the centre has shown that Windows
dedicated support staff. It is helpful if                           studies.                                         HPC Server 2008 provides
systems can be managed by end users                                There is a strong need for a                     comparative performance to the Linux
with little specialist training.                                    professionally supported and                     system and offers improved
                                                                    upgradable operating system, which               manageability and usability for cluster
A typical design case for a sequence of                             requires limited specialist skills.              management.
Rolls-Royce turbine blade analyses can                             The management of large computing               Simplified maintenance. Windows
involve linking eight or more CPU cores                             clusters needs a range of specialist             HPC Server 2008 simplifies operating
that run for eight to ten hours. Between                            software tools that link together and            system maintenance and an advanced
20 and 40 design variables are                                      give strategic oversight of the system,          range of cluster management tools
investigated and anything from 1,000 to                             while providing simple, effective                are now available.
2,000 individual design runs may be                                 management for the system.                      Highly reliable and robust. The
needed.                                                                                                              system is stable and has been proven
                                                                Because of these and many other                      in the most demanding HPC
Such a design case may require more                             factors, the adoption of Windows HPC                 environments, making it ideal for the
than 100,000 CPU hours to resolve the                           Server 2008 was the obvious choice.                  centre’s research.
best geometry for manufacturing and                             One important step involved the porting             Easy to use. Minimal training is
testing. Turnaround time for such jobs is                       of the Rolls-Royce software, which                   needed for experienced IT
usually three or four weeks and system                          solves problems related to fluid flow, to            administrators. The familiar
reliability is crucial. To add to the                           run under the Windows HPC Server                     environment of Windows HPC Server
challenge, it’s normal for the centre to                        2008 system. This was accomplished by                2008 is simple for students and
have multiple problems to deal with at                          adapting the software build process                  researchers to pick up. It also comes
any given time.                                                 already available in Rolls-Royce for its             with a powerful and easy-to-use suite
                                                                other Windows desktop systems, using                 of tools.
Solution                                                        Intel compilers.                                    Remote desktop access. End users
In the past, the UTC used Linux-based                                                                                can use remote desktop technology
systems to support its work. But a                              Benefits                                             to access several master nodes and a
number of factors led to a change in this                       Prof. Andy Keane, Head of the Rolls-                 range of flexible monitoring tools.
strategy:                                                       Royce UTC for Computational                          They can also take advantage of new
                                                                Engineering, Southampton University,                 control options that allow different
   Rolls-Royce is converting all its desktop                   says: “Tests of Windows HPC Server                   nodes to be used to maximum
    workstations to run Windows-based                           2008 have shown that it delivers                     efficiency.
    systems to improve standardisation,                         accurate results with no compromise on
    make system support easier, and                             speed compared with the previous Linux
    improve alignment with commercial                           implementation used by the centre.” The
    off-the-shelf software development                          server is robust and reliable, accepting
    strategies.                                                 jobs with little delay and no disruption.
   The university was keen to standardise                      The ability to access several master
    its systems to limit the additional                         nodes remotely and access a range of
    training required by students joining                       flexible monitoring tools has also been
    the UTC from undergraduate courses                          helpful, as has the range of new control

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Document published September 2009

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