Airbus boosts aeroplane design with HPC

Airbus is deploying High Power Computer (HPC) “data centre in a box” containers from HP to support its aeroplane design and simulation.

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Airbus is deploying High Power Computer (HPC) “data centre in a box” containers from HP to support its aeroplane design and simulation.

The aeroplane manufacturer, which makes the renowned double-decker A380 used by airlines like Emirates and British Airways, has begun deploying HP’s Performance Optimised Datacentres (PODs) in its headquarters in France and Germany.

Like competitors Boeing and Bombardier, Airbus has been using HPC to power wind tunnel aerodynamics, aircraft design including structure, material, strength and acoustic analysis.

“We are pleased to build on our supercomputing partnership with HP,” said Guus Dekkers, Airbus CIO.

“Over the next five years, HP will continue to enhance our PODs by boosting capacity and raising energy efficiency, while providing increased availability, resilience and security. This will further support Airbus engineering teams in aircraft development.”

HP will deliver two new PODs before December this year. As Airbus scales over the next five years, HP will assemble the ready-made containers in its Czech factory and deliver them, ready to be plugged in.

Dave Chalmers, chief technologist for enterprise at HP, said that deploying over an extended period will allow the company access to the latest generation of the hardware at any given time, boosting its green credentials as well as cutting energy costs, as HP will constantly update the efficiency of each version.

While most well maintained datacentres run at a PUE (power usage effectiveness) efficiency rating of 1.4 or 1.5, the perfect score is 1.0. Airbus' PODs currently have an efficiency score of 1.1, Chalmers said.

Airbus is currently implementing a long-term project called “smarter skies” which will take it through to 2050, improving efficiency, design and minimising waste.

The first step is the “eco-climb”, a plan to get planes taking off more efficiently, cutting noise, CO2 and reducing fuel consumption. The company hopes this commitment will be reflected in its data warehousing technology.

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