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Campus Grid Computing Used to Achieve Practical Vehicle Collision Analysis

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HIROSHIMA, Japan--Hiroshima University has teamed up with Mazda Motor Corporation and Fujitsu Limited in a joint research project that analyzes vehicle collision data using Hiroshima University's campus grid of networked personal computers. A massive amount of data calculations were necessary to successfully complete the first computing grid-based vehicle collision analysis at a practical level in Japan. This was made possible by using the university's linked grid of personal computers at night, when usage rates were low.

The experiment's result has attracted attention because it underscores the notion of a university campus' computer grid as a practical and low cost computing environment. In the near future, Hiroshima University's campus grid will be made available to the general public local industry. Specific details about the research project were announced at the "computing grid front line" regular study group meeting held on October 14, 2005, sponsored by Hiroshima University's Information Media Center (IMC).

At IMC, highly efficient servers and 500 personal computers, normally used for education, were integrated with grid technologies to create a 'campus grid' network for research involving massive calculations that are performed during low-use periods at night. Recurring use of this grid started in Spring 2005. There have been requests to extend the use of the grid to other disciplines such as medicine, engineering, biotechnology, and scientific research that involves complicated large-scale simulations and data validation at a practical level.

Technology Development
Dr. Shigenobu Okazawa, Associate Professor at Hiroshima University, used the IMC campus computer grid to conduct computational experiments on vehicle collisions based on an actual simulation model. Prof. Okazawa was in charge of the experiment that used simulations to verify the practical analysis model provided by Mazda, while Fujitsu consulted on the use of the grid system. Mazda's Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) Department contributed frontal collision and RX-8 sports car CAE data. Fujitsu collaborated in the development of the LS-DYNA 970 R5434A MPP version software that was used for this experiment's collision analysis with Livermore Software Technology Corporation (LSTC).

A simulation model that used 17 personal computers linked in the IMC campus grid performed the analysis in about 44 hours. Conventional computer calculation environments would take between 10-to-50 hours for the same task, depending on the number of CPUs used. If 500 computers in the IMC campus grid are used, 30 different simulation patterns can be performed simultaneously and wide-ranging analysis is attainable.

This experiment proves the utility of campus grids and the potential for personal computer grids to be used in computer aided engineering projects for the manufacturing industry. In addition, the wider significance of campus grids is also illustrated in terms of the effective utilization of universities' computing resources. IMC plans to share its campus grid with local community organizations.

"The performance of the campus grid really exceeded my expectations, and the cost performance of the computer hardware was also an eye-opener. I wasn't conscious of the campus grid as being practically equal -in terms of user friendliness- to the computers that we usually use," said Hiroshima University's Okazawa. "At my lab, we are working on vehicle collision analysis as well as evaluating the overall safety of transportation machinery. We wrestled with the issue of securing sufficient computer resources, and also sharply reduced computer costs with this campus grid."

Future initiatives
Prof. Okazawa will use the computer grid in his ongoing systems engineering courses, and also employ it for research applications in a variety of engineering areas. Mazda is validating the potential of future use of the campus grid for product development and joint research while seeking solutions to issues such as network capability, PC specifications, and licensing costs, among others. Fujitsu will promote the campus grid potential for use in other universities and companies.

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