BAE Systems is to develop a proof-of-concept design system for planes using a Microsoft-based grid computer system run by the University of Southampton.
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The news came as Microsoft issued a pre-release version of its Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 (CCS), the full version of which is due in August.
The technology effectively gives mainstream organisations high-performance computing (HPC) capabilities, which have traditionally only been available using large Linux and Unix server clusters.
The University of Southampton will produce a design system for BAE Systems using its Spitfire computer cluster. The cluster is based on CCS servers running on dual-core AMD Opteron processors.
The grid project aims to improve the aircraft design process by using HPC for aerodynamic simulations.
Jamil Appa, BAE Systems’ group team leader, technology and engineering services, said Microsoft’s entry into high-performance grid computing meant companies could use a familiar Windows interface to do large-scale calculations.
“We use Windows XP desktops and a Microsoft environment. Trying to integrate that with Unix is not straightforward. The design processes themselves are complex, and the designers would have to be very technical. We want them to be innovators. Translating the processes to Microsoft frees them to design,” he said.