MTU Aero Engines has decided to use a Linux cluster for its engine development. The Linux cluster consists of 64 Dell PowerEdge 1550 standard rack servers with two 1.13 GHz Intel Pentium III processors each, and a total main memory of 144 GB SDRAM for the implementation of additional computing capacities. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 7 is used as the operating system. The computers are networked using Fast Ethernet and 2 GBit/s Myrinet.
The decision for the Linux cluster results from the MTU Aero Engines engineers' rising demands for computing power. At the same time, they expect the price-performance ratio to be as modest as possible. "We decided to use the Linux cluster with Dell computers due to the fact that it was the solution with the best price-performance ratio," said Norbert Diehl, Head of the Information Systems Engineering (CAE) Team at MTU Aero Engines. "A direct comparison with Unix-based supercomputer solutions with the same computing performance reveals that the overall costs for our Linux cluster are about 2.5 - 3 times lower."
Nowadays, simulation programs requiring a high level of computing are indispensable for the development of competitive products. Already at the design stage, complex algorithms, the aerodynamic, thermodynamic, and mechanical properties of components are predicted, enabling an early optimization of the geometry of the components. "In order to be successful in the market, the development of new generations of engines must be promoted in a straightforward and efficient manner," explained Norbert Diehl.
Seamless Integration and Perfect Stability
"We were able to perform the port of our Unix application software to Linux within our MTU team without encountering any problems," explained project manager Dr. Axel Philipp. "However, the seamless integration of the Linux cluster in the existing heterogeneous server infrastructure constituted a special technical challenge. Thus, we commissioned the experts of SUSE who mastered this task to our full satisfaction. The smooth interaction between users, SUSE and T-Systems, the operators of the MTU infrastructure, was also noteworthy."
Dr. Philipp rated the stability of the new Linux cluster as 'excellent': "Our development engineers have nothing but praise. We have been utilizing the Linux cluster productively around the clock for the past three months without any failures. Nevertheless, if serious problems should arise that cannot be solved by our system administrators, our support agreements with Dell and SUSE provide us with direct access to the required specialists."
As is the case with modern mainframe systems, Linux clusters that strictly comply with standard architectures can be expanded virtually without limit. Server systems with standard components (CPU, bus architecture, operating system) guarantee lower system costs, better compatibility, and comparable availability, resulting in a lower total cost of ownership. MTU Aero Engines intends to expand the cluster soon. "The expansion of the Linux cluster has already been decided upon. In view of our highly positive experiences, we are going to double the performance of the cluster within the coming six months," said Norbert Diehl.
About MTU Aero Engines
MTU Aero Engines, a DaimlerChrysler affiliate, has 7,800 employees and EUR 2.5 billion in fiscal 2001 revenues. It is the world's fifth-largest engine manufacturer and largest independent supplier of commercial engine services.
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