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Cray cracks Oz military for super simulating silent subs

Computational fluid dynamics off the port bow

Screenshot from DARPA's ACTUV game. Credit: DARPA/Sonalysts

Cray has strolled off with a $AU2.27 million contract to provide a supercomputer to the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO).

When installed, the machine will be used to run CFD (computation fluid dynamics) simulations for submarine design. The contract is solely for compute hardware – Cray will have to integrate the new machine with existing network and storage.

The tender for the machine came to light in January, with DSTO requesting a cluster that could run OpenFOAM and ANSYS Fluent/CFX solvers, designed to spread fluid dynamics problems across thousands of cores.

CFD regularly features as the kind of problem that spurs supercomputer users to record-breaking performance. In January of 2013, the Sequoia machine at Stanford University applied a million cores to a CFD problem modelling supersonic aircraft engine noise.

The DSTO super won't be any where near as powerful, but its problems are still both interesting and demanding: designing quieter submarines, and modelling their manoeuvrability. The CFD simulations will be solving meshes of more than 100 million cells, which would need months using current DSTO machines. ®

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