For cutting-edge aeronautical companies, the age of wooden mock-ups and innumerable prototypes is long gone. Nowadays, designing an aircraft is an extremely hi-tech process, and computer simulation is at the very heart of the process. As a major player in both civil and military aeronautics, and a first-rate enterprise in terms of its computerization, Dassault Aviation has a very sophisticated Data Center for its intensive computing. The constant search for greater and greater levels of precision in the simulation of physical properties – these days, several million points are mapped when modeling the structure of an aircraft – requires ever more processing power. Dassault Aviation is constantly upgrading its HPC environment to meet these demands. Most recently, it has been further strengthened with the addition of two bullx clusters.
Modularity, scalability, security, environmental protection
The algorithms uses to solve equations are specific to each of the main areas of physics. However, for reasons of cost, all the simulation software packages have to make use of shared resources at Dassault Aviation’s HPC Center. In 2009, Dassault Aviation was especially keen to augment its park of supercomputers dedicated mainly to carrying out calculations relating to electro-magnetic phenomena such as responses to lightning strikes and the behaviour of antennas, which consume especially large amounts of memory. “We were looking for a cluster that was not only easy to incorporate into our existing environment, but also modular and capable of being extended from a few Teraflops to several tens of Teraflops, and which also offers guarantees and maintenance that takes into account the security rules relating to the protection of our information, while at the same time respecting concerns for the environment,” explains Alain Samblat, the Manager responsible for Dassault Aviation’s intensive computing environment.
As a user of Bull supercomputers since 2003, Dassault Aviation was won over by bullx, the new Extreme Computing platform from Bull, which met all these criteria. Thanks to close cooperation with the sales teams from Bull, the main user programs could be run on a machine that is representative of the chosen configuration. As a result, all the system’s parameters were refined for optimum alignment with the different software. The new bullx cluster – which had been pre-configured and tested at the factory – was brought into production very rapidly. “There was no problem at all integrating it into our environment and into the processing sequences. The performance requirements for user programs have been met, and the machine has been very rapidly adopted, to the extent where it has encouraged the formation of new queues to use it,” smiles Alain Samblat.
Advances in production
Apart from the excellent processing performance, Dassault Aviation has been especially pleased with the operational advances enabled by the new bullx system. By enabling simulation programs to go into production more quickly, by facilitating the management of supercomputers or improving their reliability, bullx effectively responds to the need for industrial-scale scientific computing. “The bullx cluster provides the ease of use and robustness that our engineers are entitled to expect from what is, for them, an everyday tool for their work,” Alain Samblat sums up. Today, Bull computers account for around 60% of the resources that Dassault Aviation has dedicated to intensive computing, in the area of electro-magnetic phenomena.
A clear measure of its satisfaction, in 2010 Dassault Aviation acquired a second bullx machine. Thanks to Bull – with whom it has established a true partnership around intensive computing solutions – Dassault Aviation is now able to adapt its HPC resources to enable the continuous optimization of its design process. So, with its new eco-friendly design programs, it can continue to work towards its aim of creating ever more competitive, high-performance and environmentally-friendly aircraft.