[clug] (fwd) Holden's got the right attitude to SCO

Martin Pool 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
    and development.

    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
    of years".

    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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