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The University of Southampton in the U.K. houses the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre (UTC) for Computational Engineering. The centre undertakes aerodynamic research and design using a range of advanced Rolls-Royce structural and 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.
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: www.soton.ac.uk/ 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 www.microsoft.com/casestudies 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 This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published September 2009
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