Tuesday Feb 24, 2009

Daimler gets scalable STAR-CD I/O with Lustre

Daimler AG, one of the world’s largest auto manufacturers and the maker of the luxury Mercedes cars, had been running CD-adapco's STAR-CD application for Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to simulate large models of multi-million cells on a cluster of Sun Fire X4100 servers, for some time. Interestingly, Sun was chosen for its ability to innovate in the commodity computing (Lintel) space; while all vendors now feature the same chips from AMD and/or Intel, Sun differentiates itself through a well-thought and high-quality packaging that delivers higher RAS and lower power consumption --down to 56% reduction compared to competitive servers at the time of launch.

"The server products were particularly convincing, especially because of their well-designed heat management. Ultimately, our demands in this regard are very high because of the density of the computers in the server rooms. Favorable heat management provides a long hardware service life."
Dr. Volker Schwarz, Team Leader, Aerodynamics and Aeroacoustics Department, Daimler AG

The computation part of STAR-CD scaled very well across the 100's of processors in the Daimler cluster. Parallel computing makes it possible to routinely work on a 100M-cell mesh, thus allowing engineers to simulate entire structures. As a result, the start-up and closing phases of a simulation run, where models are decomposed into input files for each cluster node to read, could eventually dominate the simulation time, and Daimler experienced a bottleneck beyond 100 processors with NFS, which is not exactly suited for highly parallel I/O.

Enters Lustre. The Lustre file system employs object-based storage to scale to 10000's of nodes…

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