Seat has revealed that it utilizes a supercomputer with the power of 40,000 PCs to refine the aerodynamics of all its vehicles. The MareNostrum 4 supercomputer is said to be the most powerful in Spain and the seventh most powerful in Europe, with 165,888 processors at its disposal. Engineers can carry out in just a few hours calculations that would typically take months.
The behemoth computer is housed in a 180m² disused chapel in the North Campus of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona as part of the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), where it is kept at an ambient temperature of 24°C.
The main areas of a car that Seat uses MareNostrum 4 to analyze are the front and rear ends, undercarriage, tires and wheels, in order to lower drag coefficient. Traditionally, this would be done using a clay model in a wind tunnel.
BSC researcher Oriol Lehmkuhl, said, “With Seat, I study the impact of wheel hub geometry on the aerodynamics of the cars. Each point is analyzed by a set of processors working in parallel. If they were analyzed individually, it would take months.”
María García-Navas, an engineer in Seat’s development and aerodynamics department, said, “Working with a wind tunnel is expensive and clay models deteriorate, so constant changes have to be made. The computing power of the BSC supercomputer enables us to include more parameters to see how air behaves inside the rims when the wheels are moving. The idea is to increasingly narrow the gap between simulation and reality.”
MareNostrum 4 is used by scientists from across the globe to simulate everything from how the human heart works to making predictions about climate change. MareNostrum 5 is already under development and will increase the capacity of the current machine by more than 20 times.
Facts and figures
36% relative humidity
19 tonnes of glass
26 tonnes of steel