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The million dollar computer that crashes all day


For immediate release


GÖTEBORG (June 22, 2005) – Volvo Car Corporation, the recognized leader in automotive safety research, has commissioned one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers to simulate vehicle collisions. Using a collection of more than 300 processors, the crash simulator works around the clock to accelerate ‘real life’ safety engineering and reduce the development time of new Volvo automobiles.


With computing power that is the equivalent to more than 1,000 ordinary home PCs, this new supercomputer, has effectively doubled Volvo Cars’ virtual crash simulation capacity and is a natural continuation of the company’s long-term commitment to safety research.


"Investing in cutting-edge virtual development resources will help us to achieve our aim of making Volvo’s real-life cars the safest on the market," says Anders Djärv, head of Crash Simulation at the Volvo Car Safety Centre in Sweden.


Advanced development of virtual crash tests was initiated three years ago to make use of the company’s cost-effective Linux clusters.


Supercomputers have been integral to the Volvo Cars vehicle development strategy since the 1987 development of the Volvo 850. At that time, high-capacity computers were used to perform flow, panel pressing and crash simulation calculations.


Overnight performance

With the installation of Volvo Cars’ new supercomputer, the company has achieved its goal of developing sufficient computing capacity to enable crash simulation engineers to input test data before going home in the evening and have the results waiting for them the following morning. Reviewed together with the design engineers during the day, crash engineers can then assemble fresh input data for that night. The result is that Volvo Cars can conduct crash safety research 24 hours a day.


The new supercomputer consists of 151 nodes (IBM eServers 325), each consisting of two CPUs, for a total of 302 AMD Opteron processors. The measured capacity is 1.3 TFlops (peak), making it one of the fastest Linux clusters in the automotive industry. Although it’s a fairly approximate measure, the capacity is equivalent to more than 1,000 ordinary home PCs!


The main purpose of the new supercomputer is not faster processing, but for more advanced calculations to be performed concurrently. By extension, all of the computing power can also be directed to perform a single calculation, if necessary, and completed in a very short time.


At present, the supercomputer can run a virtual crash test in five hours. In 1995, a virtual test would have consumed three days with mathematical models a tenth the size and complexity. Thanks to the increased computing power, Volvo Cars is better able to meet the demand for shorter product development lead times.


Computer simulations don’t replace physical crash testing, said Djärv. Real-life crash tests are required in the final stages of product development to verify the simulated results and verify legal requirements prior to launch. To this end, the results of practical testing at the Volvo Car Safety Centre have demonstrated a significant co-relation to the results of virtual tests.


Real-life safety

The virtual development of safety is an important element in offering customers what Volvo Cars refers to as “real-life” safety. It is an integral part of delivering vehicles that are among the safest in the world when they reach the market.


“This new computer provides us with an efficient virtual development facility for optimizing and producing robust vehicle designs”, explains Djärv. “Combined with physical crash testing and over 35 years of investigating real-life road accidents on the roads of Sweden, our supercomputer is an excellent tool in ensuring that our vehicles provide customers with ‘real-life safety’. Nobody should ever doubt that they are getting one of the world’s safest cars when they buy a Volvo.”


Volvo Cars of Canada Ltd. is part of the Volvo Car Corporation of Göteborg, Sweden. The company provides marketing, sales, parts, service, technology and training support to the 43 Volvo automobile retailers across the country. The company’s product range includes the flagship S80 luxury sedan, the versatile V70 wagon, the S60 sports sedan, and an XC-line of vehicles that includes the rugged XC70 and the award-winning XC90 sport utility vehicle. For 2005, the company is introducing the completely redesigned S40 sports sedan and V50 sportswagon, providing performance for a new generation.


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Doug Mepham

1-877-975-1572 office

613-922-6097 mobile


Chad Heard



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