Analysing how air flows around a vehicle is essential to being able to reduce its drag coefficient and hence make it faster and more efficient. There are two basic techniques that can be used to do this: physical testing using scale models and a wind tunnel, and computer simulation. Physical testing is expensive due to the costs of building models and operating the test facilities. It is also time consuming, as changes to the design require new physical models to be built. Computer simulation removes the need for physical models and testing facilities, and enables the engineers to make changes to the design more easily. However, simulating airflow with the required degree of accuracy requires computing power beyond the reach of most designers, mainly due to the capital costs of the equipment.
The solution developed by ICON is to provide cost-effective and easy-to-use access to high-performance computing. The ease of use is achieved by providing browser accessible ‘apps’ which provide the necessary features to set up and analyse simulations. The apps connect to HPC-systems which provide pay-per-use access; capital costs are avoided altogether, as is the need for experienced personnel to run the HPC systems.