Speedo Dives Into Supercomputing

SGI Technology Delivers Top Computational Performance to Model Hydrodynamic

'Speed Suits' for the Olympics and Competitive Meets

May 23, 2006, 01:00 ET from SGI

    MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., May 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- To better
 understand how to optimize the flow of water around a swimmer and create
 the designs and materials to give competitive athletes a winning edge,
 Speedo, the world's leading swim brand, is designing the next generation of
 their FASTSKIN performance swimwear using the power of Silicon Graphics
 (OTC: SGID) technology. Performance-intensive computational fluid dynamics
 (CFD) analysis based on data of Olympic swimmers -- monitored in Speedo's
 Aqualab research and development facility -- is run on an SGI(R) Altix(R)
 high-performance computing system. According to Speedo, the company was the
 first swimwear company to use CFD analysis to design swimwear and athletic
 wear. Rerunning CFD models of previous FASTSKIN designs in order to create
 newer, even more hydrodynamic models that will further reduce high
 skin-friction drag, Speedo gets much faster results over commodity PC
 clusters by using the SGI Altix, which runs eight Intel(R) Itanium(R) 2
 processors in a SGI shared-memory architecture Linux(R) environment.
     "I chose the SGI Altix for one reason: speed," said Barry Bixler, a key
 member of the Aqualab Research and Development Team. "CFD is one of the
 most time-consuming, intensive number-crunching activities that you can use
 a computer for, and I can use all of the eight processors running in
 parallel on the Altix. When I was using a PC cluster, some jobs would take
 almost a week to run. I can now run similar jobs on the Altix overnight --
 start it off in the evening, wake up in the morning and it will be done. I
 get really good turnaround time and the fact that I can run a job overnight
 instead of having to wait a week, that's an incredible increase in my
     Bixler, also an aerospace engineer, is now using the SGI Altix system
 to develop the next generation of FASTSKIN. Using the FLUENT CFD program,
 he is doing much more sophisticated analysis than ever before. "I have used
 the FLUENT program for several years now, and its stability and many
 features have allowed me to tackle a variety of fluid flow problems for
 Speedo. FLUENT runs extremely well on the SGI Altix, where all the
 time-critical number-crunching takes place, and when I get results, I just
 post-process them on my PC home computers," said Bixler. "We look at the
 speed and the direction of the flow, and where it leaves the body, and
 where it reattaches itself. And of course we're always interested to see
 where the skin friction drag is high, and where it is low."
     Most competitive swimmers, male and female, wear some type of full body
 suit that either covers wrists to ankles, or sleeveless, with torso and
 legs covered; some prefer torso and a leg length to just above the knees.
 Speedo makes all the varieties and combinations, yet Bixler (and many
 others) believe athletes can swim faster in the longer suits because the
 suits streamline the body and channel the flow around the body, reducing
 drag. Amazing amounts of research go into the carefully designed fabrics
 and silhouettes of competitive swimwear. FASTSKIN material, for example,
 more closely resembles a shark's skin than human skin, down to the tiny
 riblets (ridges) on the surface.
     CFD modeling shows how the water flows around the body. Different suits
 are designed for male and female athletes because CFD has determined there
 is a more separated flow, where the water actually leaves the surface of
 the swimmer, for females than males.
     "The shared-memory architecture of the SGI Altix system, which speeds
 up the design process by shortening data access time and computational
 runs, is the perfect tool for complex CFD analysis, whether designing
 next-generation swimsuits, cars, airplanes or rockets," said Himanshu
 Misra, manager, engineering analysis segment, SGI. "As the growing numbers
 of SGI Altix HPC customers in all those fields know, speed of analysis is
 paramount in time to market and maintaining a competitive advantage."
     Speedo is the world's leading swimwear brand. Founded in Sydney in
 1928, Speedo is owned by Pentland Brands Plc and is distributed in over 170
 countries around the world. Speedo has over 75 years of heritage and
 expertise in swimwear and equipment based in or near the water.
     For more information about Speedo visit www.speedo.com. For more
 information on FLUENT visit www.fluent.com.
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 high-performance computing. SGI helps customers solve their computing
 challenges, whether it's sharing images to aid in brain surgery, finding
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      Marla Robinson