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International Truck Leverages SGI Altix Cluster to Improve Engineering Analysis Performance


To improve overall design time and material selection for curbside delivery trucks to 18-wheelers, the Truck Development Technology Center (TDTC) of International Truck and Engine Corporation, the operating company of Navistar International Corp. selected SGI (NASDAQ: SGIC) technology to boost performance in a variety of engineering software applications for full-vehicle heavy truck analyses. The International Truck TDTC facility in Ft. Wayne, Ind. purchased and installed the new SGI® Altix® XE cluster solution, powered by Intel® Xeon® processors, in October for finite element analysis (FEA), computer-assisted engineering (CAE) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to improve overall design and material selection for Class 4 through Class 8 trucks — everything from a curbside delivery truck to an 18-wheeler.

“We chose Altix XE because we needed to be more efficient as far as compute power, system reliability and storage capability,” said Craig Harmeyer, senior IT specialist, Truck Development Technology Center, International Truck and Engine Corp. “We were running into performance issues, where we required better performance than what we were getting from the Opteron cluster we had. Another primary issue was reliability and that has been greatly improved with the SGI Altix XE system. The SGI system is definitely more flexible and robust, and as a result my analysts are achieving significantly faster turnaround with the SGI system.”

The largest analyses use MSC.Nastran™, part of the MSC.Software SimOffice™ product portfolio, to perform finite element analysis that can evaluate, for example, when a truck component can fail or how to optimize the design of a component for the best use of material, primarily steel. Analyzing the right amount of steel reinforcement is both a safety and a cost issue in the manufacturing of trucks: designers don’t want to use too much, which could add unnecessary weight and cost, or too little, affecting both safety and durability. Using SGI technology helps many manufacturers deliver safer vehicles faster and more cost- effectively. Through SGI solutions partner Hoff and Associates, International Truck’s TDTC purchased a high-performance SGI Altix XE cluster running Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® 4.0.. The SGI Altix XE cluster and storage drives are integrated on a Myrinet® high-speed interconnect and configured with the ability to run a host of CAE applications including very large MSC.Nastran analyses, as well as ANSYS®, LS-DYNA™, Fluent®, Altair® OptiStruct®, MSC.Adams®, ABAQUS® and others. The Altix XE cluster configuration is ideal to handle the computational needs of the multiple and diverse application types used by International Truck.

“In our testing of the Altix XE cluster — an identical configuration to International Truck’s system — a 3-5X performance gain was achieved over the AMD Opteron system that were benchmarked against, running MSC.Nastran,” said Don Coburn, director of HPC solutions for Hoff and Associates. “The types of analyses which International Truck performs present unique needs for high-speed computing and the SGI cluster solution was optimally configured or ‘tailor-made’ for their mixed workload comprising diverse applications. Their demands for I/O, RAM and raw computing capacity far exceeded the capacity of their existing Operton compute cluster. By selecting SGI’s new Altix XE cluster solution, we had the ability to effectively run models and achieve a throughput and reliability they simply could not achieve with their older Opteron-based computing platform.”

“One of the key challenges was to architect a solution that most optimally addressed the specific workload requirements of International Truck. The technical expertise of Hoff and Associates and their engineering insights in the ability to judge the needs of the customer, and custom-design the Altix XE cluster configuration to meet the customer’s workload and throughput needs was the primary reason why we could deliver an order of magnitude superior application performance,” said Himanshu Misra, engineering analysis segment manager, SGI.


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