25Th September 2019

600 years or a few months? The supercomputer in Škoda can work wonders

On a regular PC, the calculations of all the simulated crashes performed during the development of the ŠKODA KODIAQ model would take over 600 years. For the supercomputer in the ŠKODA AUTO Data Centre, it's a question of a few months or so. How does it work?

A supercomputer basically involves the combining of a large number of very powerful computers into one unit, whose individual parts communicate with one another using high-speed networks. With its output, one supercomputer can replace approximately 60,000 regular PCs. The supercomputer in the ŠKODA AUTO Data Centre is the most powerful computing centre in the commercial sphere in Central and Eastern Europe.

The supercomputer's main “customer” is the area of technical research and development. Simulations are used in all phases of the research and development of a new car, from design to the creation of the final product. The most important areas in which the calculations are used include aerodynamics, crash test simulations, calculations relating to aggregates, metal deformation simulations, hot forming and casting.

Thanks to the supercomputer, technicians and developers can verify many more possibilities that in real physical tests, and in a shorter time and with lower costs. It does not mean abandoning classic methods completely, just limiting their use.

“When I perform a real crash test with a physical car, I can only evaluate the result afterwards,” says Tomáš Kubr, Head of the Functionality Development Department. “If, after the evaluation, I decide to test something else, I have to destroy another car. With the supercomputer, I just modify the instructions and I can repeat the test.”

For example, during the development of the ŠKODA KODIAQ SUV, 99% of the crash tests were performed on the computer.

Even the aerodynamics of the car's interior are a science. The air conditioning and heating in the car are also a question of safety. The driver must be alert, and able to react quickly to unexpected situations while driving. In the winter, on the other hand, the car must be able to defrost and defog quickly.

“Defrosting, in particular, is a relatively complicated physical phenomenon, which would be hard for us to simulate without a supercomputer,” describes Jan Jagrik, Head of the Aerodynamics Department at ŠKODA AUTO.

“Thanks to the hot air being blown on to it by the heating, the state of the layer of ice which lies on the glass changes twice. Modelling all of the states in one simulation is not easy, but now we can not only calculate all this – we can also display it in 3D,” he adds.

However, the computer could not function by itself, without a human operator. “A human being is irreplaceable,” Jan Jagrik concludes the topic. “The supercomputer can generate many results and calculations, but they have to be thought about by an expert, who then decides on the modifications which constitute the shortest path to achieving the required properties of the vehicle which is being developed.“

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