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Airbus boosts High Performance Computing capacity one pod at a time

This article was originally published on Technology.Info.
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At Airbus, high performance computing (HPC) capabilities come by the pod. The aircraft manufacturer has recently deployed two new pre-configured, container-based data centres from Hewlett-Packard (HP), adding to a previous investment in HP POD (Performance Optimised Data centre) technologies.

The delivery of the new PODs to Airbus sites in Toulouse, France and Hamburg, Germany is part of a five-stage, four-year contract and has doubled Airbus’s existing high-performance computing capabilities to 1,200 teraflops. Each 12-foot container holds all the elements of an HP converged infrastructure - blade servers, storage, networking, software and management tools, as well as integrated power and cooling - and delivers the equivalent of almost 500 square meters of data centre space.

High Performance Computing incredible important at Airbus

HPC is in high demand at Airbus: the company’s engineers run a range of simulation programmes designed to test aircraft in four main areas: aerodynamics, structure, acoustics and avionics. These cover everything from how an aircraft handles in windy conditions, how heavy a load it can carry, its compliance with airport and national rules on noise emission and the performance of on-board systems for navigation, lighting and air conditioning, for example.
According to Dave Chalmers, vice president and chief technologist of the HP Enterprise Group, one of HPC’s attractions is its ability to handle a wide variety of workloads, but, he told, “one of the challenges is that, while you need to use huge amounts of power, processing and storage to get the answers you want today, you may need those resources to do something else tomorrow.”
In other words, companies like Airbus need a flexible approach to HPC that enables them to rapidly redeploy supercomputing resources to handle different tasks, as and when they’re needed.
That’s why Airbus opted for HP PODs, Chalmers says. These containerised data centres, launched by HP some five years back, offer far greater flexibility than HPC capabilities installed in a traditional data centre.
“For a start, they’re fundamentally mobile. That’s important, because Airbus has processing needs in multiple locations,” he explains. “That’s not to say that the company intends to move these PODs around very much, but because they have operations all over the world, they have that option.”

A modular approach to HPC creates business flexibility