[clug] (fwd) Holden's got the right attitude to SCO
mbp at samba.org
Fri Jun 20 16:33:35 EST 2003
With all the bulldust SCO is kicking into the air it's nice to hear
some happier news.
(I kind of think "171GHz processors" is a typo though. :-)
linux to drive holden car design
By Iain Ferguson, ZDNet Australia 20 May 2003
An Australian supercomputing consortium is poised to lease a
Hewlett-Packard Itanium 2-based computing cluster to service a
multi-year contract to assist car maker Holden in new vehicle design
Victorian Partnership for Advanced Computing (VPAC) chief executive Dr
Bill Appelbe told ZDNet Australia VPAC had opted to lease an HP
Itanium 2 cluster consisting of 171GHz Itanium 2 processors, 64GB RAM,
eight rx2600 nodes and more than a terabyte of storage to service the
The deal also includes full hardware maintenance over three years.
The supercomputing cluster is expected to run on a Linux operating
system in the medium-to-long term, with an HP UX system possibly used
in the short term while some applications not yet ported to Linux are
transitioned. Appelbe dismissed recent warnings from the SCO
Group--which has asked users to suspend their Linux development--as
"not a consideration" and described the vendor as "running on the
FUD--fear, uncertainty and doubt--syndrome".
Appelbe said that the system was expected to kick off in the coming
months after relevant paperwork had been finalised. HP's solution beat
out bids from rival heavyweights SGI, Dell and IBM after Holden and
VPAC executives rated each proposal on a matrix encompassing price
performance, risk, manageability and adaptability.
Up to 30 engineers employed by VPAC, Holden or sub-contractors are
expected to use the cluster--based at Holden's new development
facility at Fisherman's Bend in western Melbourne--to conduct
production engineering work. VPAC will manage the cluster via a
high-speed leased line to its offices.
Choices, choices Appelbe said a key criteria for selection was
price-performance. "We wanted the best-priced deal we could get for
computing capacity on engineering jobs," he said, with the
supercomputer expected to run a range of packaged engineering
solutions such as LS-Dyna, Abaqus, Nastran and Star-CD.
He said the cluster had to run a 64-bit architecture to deliver the
capacity required to service the deal. Thirty-two bit architecture was
determined to be inadequate, while a combined 32-64 bit solution was
too fragmented for VPAC's application. "If you go to a solution that
involves dealing with very large engineering problems, you need 64-bit
architecture," he explained.
The computing cluster is expected to allow engineers to develop very
fine "mesh" with as many as half a million nodes and six degrees of
freedom. This mesh is needed for simulations of design-crucial areas
such as airflow within engine cylinders during activity. With air
temperature and pressure varying widely at each small mesh node during
engine activity, the ability to examine properties associated with
these changes from a three-dimensional perspective is a crucial design
asset. Appelbe noted that "that difference in air pressure impacts on
performance. Achieving as close as identical airflow into all
cylinders is a huge optimisation".
He said the deal continued an ongoing "revolution in virtual
engineering and virtual manufacturing," whereby traditional "rule of
thumb" approaches to design were being replaced by highly-refined
Appelbe said another consideration of the deal was scalability, with
VPAC envisaging a significant upgrade program. "Within a year, if we
haven't added more capacity, we're not doing our job". He added the
aggressive deployment of Itanium 2 solutions by vendors was rapidly
increasing VPAC's options for future expansion.
VPAC and Holden also assessed risk, examining each proposed solution
against the danger of: - a particular, necessary software product not
running on the platform, or not delivering optimal performance; - the
machine having inadequate capacity; - the machine being difficult or
expensive to administer.
VPAC also wanted to ensure it was using a familiar operating system to
ensure its existing skills base could be used effectively. Linux is
widespread throughout its existing environment.
Appelbe added the decision to go for a leasing arrangement was made
primarily on a financial basis, as the entire computing power of the
HP solution would be used to service the Holden contract. However, he
also noted that "in high performance computing, the anticipated
lifetime [of a system] is three years," with organisations who
maintain their solutions beyond that date risking the loss of their
competitive edge. "Computing power is doubling each year for the same
dollars," he said. "the curve has even picked up over the last couple
He claimed the deal gave VPAC the best research and development
capability in high-performance computing terms in Australia and helped
the organisation achieve commercial self-sufficiency within two years
of starting operations. The timing of the organisation's achievement
was ideal, Appelbe said, as there was presently "a renaissance in
supercomputing, with relatively new disciplines such as bioinformatics
requiring heavy supercomputing grunt to open up commercial
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