Engineers at Daimler Chrysler are making a lot of noise about their latest design aid—and it's a tool intended to help engineers get rid of the noise in their cars.
The company recently became among the first in the automotive industry to move to Intel's (www.intel.com) 64-bit Itanium® 2 processors. Those processors will power more than 100 HP zx6000 workstations (www.hp.com) running MSC.Software's (www.mscsoftware.com) analysis products to eliminate noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) from their future Chrysler Group models.
Chrysler's goal is to cut NVH analysis time in half. "We know we can do it because we've demonstrated it," says John Picklo, the group's high-performance computing manager. He adds that engineers can run more design variables in the same amount of time with the Itanium2/HP workstation cluster, which he says will lead to better products. Previously, engineers in the Chrysler Group used 56 HP N-Class servers for NVH testing. "This is a hardware change only," says Picklo. "(MSC) NASTRAN remains our workhorse software, so there's no learning curve for the engineers."
The benefit of 64-bit computing is the dramatic increase in number-crunching power it has over 32-bit computing. It literally doubles that power, making it possible for engineers to slash design and analysis time. Picklo selected the NVH testing work as the best candidate for the 64-bit computing power of Itanium2, largely because of the number of degrees of freedom on the simulation models. "The nature of the application and the complexity of the data involved in the analysis requires 64-bits to get to the right level of accuracy," he says. For most other engineering applications, he asserts, 32-bit processing power is fine.
The move to Itanium 2 was the result of a four-month study by Picklo's Chrysler Group team. While they didn't do any pilot tests, they did give the Intel/HP/MSC.Software team some sample engineering problems to solve, then verified the results. Says Greg Sikes, who led the team effort for MSC, "Daimler Chrysler's human and financial resources were under pressure and the group needed to improve the amount of simulation in a fixed amount of time, so we consulted with them on their current and future needs."
The Itanium2 chip is the second generation of the original Itanium launched in 2001. That earlier 64-bit product was much anticipated—and then much booed by some users and computer-industry experts when it hit the market. They felt it didn't live up to its performance expectations. Intel says the current chip doubles the performance of Itanium1.
For its part, HP, which partnered with Intel early on in chip development, designed the zx6000 workstation specifically for 64-bit computing. The company has been partnering with several analysis-software vendors, including ANSYS and Fluent, says Dan Nordhues, HP's director of marketing for
PA-RISC and Itanium computing. "We have been increasing the number of pilot CAD seats with 64-bit computing in the automotive and heavy-equipment industries," Nordhues says. "Up to now, many of those companies have been breaking their models into smaller sizes to accommodate the 32-bit computers they have."
Besides mechanical CAD and analysis applications, this Itanium chip has found a home in electronic design as well. Intel reports that ModelSim from Model Technology, a Mentor Graphics company (www.mentor.com), uses the chip in the design of ASICS. Additionally, scientists and engineers at British Petroleum, The Pacific Northwest Laboratory, and The National Center for Supercomputing use Itanium2 for a variety of processes.
Meanwhile, MSC has been busy pushing the technology at other companies too. In conjunction with Intel and HP, the company has provided analysis software written for 64-bit computing to BMW. It's done the same in conjunction with Intel and IBM for Boeing.