Ferrari hopes its bid for Formula 1 glory and performance car success will get an extra boost from using Microsoft’s newest high-performance computing technology, Windows HPC Server 2008, in its automotive engineering, design and development process.

At the European launch of HPC Server 2008 at the Ferrari campus in Maranello, Italy, this week, the current Formula 1 champion constructor announced that it was working with Microsoft on developing a high-performance solution as part of its automotive design, simulation and engineering process.

“Ferrari is always looking for the most advanced technical solutions, and of course the same applies for software and engineering,” said Piergiorgio Grossi, head of information systems at the Ferrari Racing Department.

“We are always scouting new technologies that can give us a competitive advantage. Windows HPC Server 2008 is very promising, and [Microsoft’s] long-lasting collaboration with Ferrari will give directions to develop a fast, familiar, high-performance computing platform for our users, engineers and administrators.”

Ferrari has been using computer simulation software running from Ansys subsidiary Fluent on a Linux-powered server cluster since July 2004, and while Grossi doesn’t see the firm’s development systems moving entirely over to Microsoft-powered clusters, HPC Server does have its advantages in terms of the system’s familiar interface.

“Our computing ecosystem is 90 per cent based on one operating system, and our engineers and users are used to Windows. HPC Server can be plugged easily into the existing infrastructure, which makes it easier for us to manage,” said Grossi.

“We’re not making a choice between Windows and other systems. We run different kinds of HPC servers and look at the results accordingly. In the end we have to win so we use both Windows and Linux to gain that competitive advantage.”

Ferrari hopes that the promised high availability of HPC Server 2008 will allow engineers to experiment with different aerodynamic and technical setups for its racing cars as close as possible to the starts of races.

“The car evolves during the racing season, and we use different packages for different races,” said Grossi. “We’re working to 2pm Sunday deadlines for each Formula 1 race, and as such our use of HPC Server is quite peculiar – our servers run 24/7, and reliability and productivity is as important to us as power.”

Microsoft is also delivering HPC solutions for computer-simulated modelling, testing and analysis to the oil, gas, financial services and academic sectors in Europe, and is working with AMD, Cray, Dell and HP to deliver solutions that promise increased performance, low acquisition price per node and a reduction in the overall cost of compute clusters.

Related articles: Microsoft edges closer to a supercomputer under your desk