Linux drives Renault Formula 1

The Renault Formula 1 team is running simulations and crucial telemetry applications on Linux clusters from IBM, and it's pleased with the results
Written by Ingrid Marson, Contributor

The IT team behind the Renault Formula 1 team has dramatically cut the time it takes to test new features by using Linux, Renault said on Tuesday.

Christophe Verdier, the IT director for Renault F1, said in the past his team relied on physical mock-ups to test new features in the engine or chassis, but its current set-up — Linux on IBM eServer clusters — allows it to run simulations that have cut the analysis time by 90 percent. They use the Linux clusters to run various simulations, such as modelling the aerodynamic flow around the front or rear wing of the car.

The main reason for choosing Linux was performance rather than cost, according to Verdier.

"Formula 1 is not driven by cost but by time," said Verdier. "Ultimately the metric is time per lap — to have the fastest car. We are trying to design the best car in the shortest time."

In the past, Renault did not consider running its clusters on Linux as it believed it lacked performance. But this has now changed, and the team has been running Linux-based clusters since 2003.

"We started to experiment with Linux clusters in 1998," said Verdier. "At the time, benchmarks comparing Linux to monolithic architectures found that Linux was less advanced. Now Linux running on AMD is the best option due to cost and performance."

Linux is not only used to run simulations, but has also been used to run critical databases and telemetry applications since 2001. The telemetry applications are vital for the safety of the racing driver as they monitor the car during the race.

"When the car is running during the race it transmits a huge amount of real-time data on the critical parameters of the engine or chassis to the ground staff — this system is run on Linux," said Verdier.

Verdier claimed it has had no problems with Linux since its installation. "We have had no issues with Linux at all," said Verdier.

Renault F1 is running Linux on an IBM e1350 cluster, based on IBM eServer e325 and e326 servers with AMD Opteron processors.

Editorial standards