Wednesday, June 22, 2005

NEWS: The million dollar computer that crashes all day

By Michael Banovsky

It’s not every day that someone brags about their computer crashing (except Windows users, of course), but Volvo isn’t a normal person. It’s not a person at all. Volvo is a team of androids whose only goal is to produce the safest cars in the world.

Aided by their new computer, Volvo employees (who are seriously not androids) are able to do an entire crash simulation in five hours, as opposed to their old computer that took three days. But at least they didn’t have to worry about pop-ups!

From Volvo Canada:

“GÖTEBORG (June 22, 2005) - Volvo Car Corporation, the recognized leader in automotive safety research, has commissioned one of the world's most powerful supercomputers to simulate vehicle collisions. Using a collection of more than 300 processors, the crash simulator works around the clock to accelerate 'real life' safety engineering and reduce the development time of new Volvo automobiles.

With computing power that is the equivalent to more than 1,000 ordinary home PCs, this new supercomputer has effectively doubled Volvo Cars' virtual crash simulation capacity and is a natural continuation of the company's long-term commitment to safety research.

"Investing in cutting-edge virtual development resources will help us to achieve our aim of making Volvo's real-life cars the safest on the market," says Anders Djärv, head of Crash Simulation at the Volvo Car Safety Centre in Sweden.

Advanced development of virtual crash tests was initiated three years ago to make use of the company's cost-effective Linux clusters. Supercomputers have been integral to the Volvo Cars vehicle development strategy since the 1987 development of the Volvo 850. At that time, high-capacity computers were used to perform flow, panel pressing and crash simulation calculations.

With the installation of Volvo Cars' new supercomputer, the company has achieved its goal of developing sufficient computing capacity to enable crash simulation engineers to input test data before going home in the evening and have the results waiting for them the following morning. Reviewed together with the design engineers during the day, crash engineers can then assemble fresh input data for that night. The result is that Volvo Cars can conduct crash safety research 24 hours a day.

The new supercomputer consists of 151 nodes (IBM eServers 325), each consisting of two CPUs, for a total of 302 AMD Opteron processors. The measured capacity is 1.3 TFlops (peak), making it one of the fastest Linux clusters in the automotive industry. Although it's a fairly approximate measure, the capacity is equivalent to more than 1,000 ordinary home PCs!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

NEWS: Four-saddle Bull

By Michael Banovsky

So don’t let rumours of a four-seat Porsche scare you off – Lamborghini is also readying its entry into the super-luxury-grand-sports-sedan segment with a car to be called the Lagartijo.

Lagartijo (we’ll let you come up with your own pronunciation, as if Murciélago and Gallardo weren’t hard enough) was the name of a bullfighting legend, who spared the life of the famous bull named…you guessed it: Murciélago.

It will be constructed in carbon fibre, share the Murciélago’s 6.2L V12 (620 horsepower), and sales will begin in 2009 at about $330,000 USD each.

But what happens when they run out of bullfighting names? Maybe they’ll start using names from their old tractors… Hey, the “Runner 450” doesn’t sound too bad, eh?

Monday, June 20, 2005

NEWS: See? Classique.

By Michael Banovsky
Photos courtesy Mercedes-Benz

Well, here it is… Now, before you get all excited and throw your arms up in disgust, I must say the design does grow on you. At first thought, I had considered to show (with pictures) how Mercedes-Benz ripped off such well-known vehicles as the Ssangyong Rexton, Maybach 59, Ford Focus, and BMW 7 Series. (Front end, rear tail lights, fender flares, and Bangle-butt, respectively.)

Well, I’m sure it was designed to look good in either silver or black – like they sell any other colours – and despite the wheels in these press photos (one as-nameless editor here had a particularly tough time keeping his lunch down) it is an elegant car.

If only they didn’t do a Chery and reverse-engineer a 7-Series’ interior…

NEWS: Five Hundred stars

By Michael Banovsky

Ford’s decision to base the Five Hundred and the Mercury Montego off of the Volvo S80 platform have paid dividends. The Five Hundred starts at $29, 295. Ford-speak follows:

“DEARBORN, Mich., June 20, 2005 – The 2005 Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego large sedans today added another award to their safety “trophy case” by earning IIHS’ highest technical safety rating of “Good” and a “Best Pick” designation for offset frontal crash performance. The sedans’ “Best Pick” designation by IIHS is awarded to vehicles that are top performers in a particular class.
Five Hundred and Montego are the only 2005 model passenger cars to have received a “Best Pick” designation from IIHS and NHTSA’s top five-star crash-test rating for front- and side-impacts for vehicles tested without the optional side air bags. A two-row Safety Canopy™ side air bag system with rollover sensor is available and provides additional protection not only in certain side collisions, but in rollover events as well.”