By Ed Turkel, HP, Manager, Product and Segment Marketing Hyperscale Business Unit
Every time we step on a plane, most of us think about safety. Even if only for a split second during take-off before settling into our quarterly report or TechCrunch podcast.
Passenger safety and comfort is a top priority for Airbus. Over the years they’ve improved industry manufacturing techniques, developed global cooperation, and reduced aviation’s environmental impact. Airbus employs 55,000 employees worldwide and manufactures aircraft for both commercial and military use. The organization uses sophisticated simulation programs to test aerodynamics, structure, acoustics, and avionics systems. To test the aerodynamics of an aircraft, the company simulates wind tunnels to gauge factors such as how wind shear affects the external structure of all or part of an airplane. All of this requires tremendous computing power.
Since 1990, Airbus has leveraged a high-performance computing environment (HPC) to drive their test platforms. But the organization’s drive to increase and improve testing environments was pushing technology boundaries. Within 10 years, Airbus knew they would need to dramatically increase their already impressive compute power – while stabilizing the costs for running such an intense environment. The organization invited hardware and service providers to participate, and requested a proposal that would double their computing power every year over the next three years.
Airbus ultimately chose HP, which proposed containerized HP Performance Optimized Datacenters 40c (PODs) equipped with all the elements of an HP Converged Infrastructure, including servers, storage, and networking in addition to integrated power and cooling. Each 12-meters-long container delivers the equivalent of nearly 1,000 square meters of data center space. Inside each HP POD, HP deployed the HP Cluster Platform 3000BL with 1,008 HP ProLiant BL280c G6 Server Blades for the cluster nodes, which are interconnected by HP 4X QDR IB CX-2 Dual-Port Mezzanine Host Channel Adapters. HP Technology Services managed the construction, transportation, deployment, and commissioning at the customer site. HP Enterprise Services provides the ongoing data center services. Airbus now uses a total of four HP PODs – two in France and two in Germany.
Today Airbus uses the POD as a type of digital wind tunnel, which helps it to reduce the number of actual wind tunnel tests it must perform, saving energy and reducing costs. The organization has reduced its power usage effectiveness (PUE) measurement from 2.0 to 1.25, while continuing to deliver power capacity in excess of 15 KW/mz. Dropping their power usage has reduced the overall costs associated with their supercomputing environment.
For more detail on Airbus’ HPC environment, take a look at the case study.
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