FLITE3D: Software for aerodynamics

The aerospace sector has traditionally been a major user of HPC.Large scale aerodynamic and electrical simulations have been used to design more efficient aircraft. The FLITE project was a collaboration with British Aerospace.

FLITE is a Computational Fluid Dynamics code designed to analyse the aerodynamics of military and commercial aircraft components. Originally, it was built for use on vector supercomputers and uses an irregular mesh to represent the simulation of an aircraft frame. Irregular meshes can very accurately represent the shape of the aircraft, but require more complicated mathematics. The users needed a new version of the software that would run on a distributed memory parallel computer, which would speed up calculations and allow for larger simulations.

EPCC developed re-usable library software to work with the irregular mesh, and used a domain decomposition approach, whereby each processor in the parallel computer deals with a part of the whole model.

The resulting system showed speed-up of close to the theoretical maximum for as many as 64 processors – an excellent performance for software of this complexity.