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gfilip May 13, 2009 14:10

Hardware sizing for CFD

I am currently running on 2x Intel Xeon X5450 3.0GHz quad core, with 16gb of RAM. A simple 2D turbFoam simulation (~100,000 cells), 100s, and writeInterval = 0.5s takes approximately 6 hours.
What sort of PC / cluster should I be looking at to reduce the simulation time to say 30 minutes? I understand this is a rather difficult question to answer, but I would appreciate even ballpark numbers / specs.


mystic_cfd May 14, 2009 16:59

Hi Greg,

some thoughts:
my experience is with fluent and cd-adapco products mostly. don't know how openfoam scales.

CPU power:
Using Fluent benchmarks a X5570 Nehalem should be 45% faster than your 3Ghz Harpertown (per core). In addition, we see speedups on dual CPU quad-core Harptertown box of around 4.3 (on all 8 cores). Benchmarks show this to be in the range 6.5-7.5 for Nehalem. So the same box with Nehalem quad-cores could give you a speed-up of ~(1.45 x (7/4.3)) = 2.4. That only gets you down to 2.5hrs on your solve time...

problem size:
In our experience we start seeing "negative" speed-up when going below 20000 cells per parallel partition. Using smaller cell blocks starts to increase solution time due to the large amount of communication required between partitions. So for 100000 cells you might already be hitting that limit - before buying anything, first check this effect on existing hardware (your current setup might give faster results if you use 4 partitions and run only 4 of the cores in your 8 core box - but take care to do core pinning so that each process gets its own CPU cache).

disk write speed:
if you write excessively, you might be waiting for disk writes instead of the solver. You must check this before buying anything. An option would be to run a RAM drive where you store output data during runs. (writing solution monitors and outputs can have the same effect - on very small problems I have seen the solver wait for the terminal or file - turn off or reduce the frequency of writing residuals etc. and check if this is a problem on your setup).


gfilip May 15, 2009 15:36

thank you very much for this valuable information. i will have to look into several issues you presented.

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