As the nights draw in, and fall turns to winter, the collective conscience of America once again becomes entirely focused on football. While the race to the NFL playoffs and the Bowl Championship Series games tightens with every touchdown, Wilson Sporting Goods Co. and CD-adapco are involved in a different race "one to engineer the perfect football.
The optimized HPC cluster resources of R Systems enables Wilson and CD-adapco to minimize time and maximize effectiveness because of the scalability of STAR-CCM+ with the Nehalem cluster.
Following the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis of its soccer ball aerodynamics, Wilson has now turned its attention to the footballs. Armed with the knowledge gleaned from CFD analysis of soccer balls, CD-adapco and Wilson are breaking new ground in the application of advanced engineering simulation technology to sports science. Wilson uses exclusive patterns and innovative technology to provide the best game football at every level of play. Operating the only dedicated football factory in the world, Wilson is investing in sports science and engineering simulation to push innovation in the design of its footballs.
Aerodynamics via CFD
The first step of the project is to understand the aerodynamics of the balls in different game situations. This is where CD-adapco’s 30 years of CFD expertise comes into play. CD-adapco’s flagship software is STAR-CCM+, which allows engineers to effectively and efficiently simulate real-world engineering situations "ranging from manufacturing to battery design "with a high level of accuracy. Wilson is now using CFD to gain insight into the complex aerodynamics of a football in flight, which until now has been next to impossible because of the cost and complexity of running wind tunnel tests of a spinning object.
Partnering with CD-adapco and Wilson in this ambitious project is R Systems, a private provider of high-end computing resources for research. Wilson and CD-adapco focused on the analysis of the famous “Duke” NFL game ball and the GST game ball used by college and high school programs all over the country.
An understanding of football behavior requires unsteady simulations of fluid flow over the football to accurately capture the effect of surface roughness, spinning laces and the aerodynamic wake behind the football. The high-performance computing (HPC) capabilities of R Systems were used to run these simulations on the cloud, using CD-adapco’s exclusive Power-on-Demand licensing scheme.
Simulation on the Cloud
Unsteady simulations on both footballs were run at different combinations of ball speed, spin and flow angle to understand the aerodynamic forces on the ball in different game scenarios. Wilson needed just one Power-on-Demand STAR-CCM+ license to run all these simulations, and the rapid response, queue-sensitive production environment provided by R Systems ensured efficient, accurate results within a total time of 15,000 core-hours. Wilson will use these results to drive innovations in the surface texture and pattern of its footballs, which will facilitate better control and stability during the forward motion of the ball.
Simulations were run using STAR-CCM+ on R Systems’ Nehalem Intel Quad Core Linux cluster, with 48 nodes and QDR non-blocking Infiniband.
“CD-adapco is committed to helping our customers win by delivering innovative products and reducing costs through the application of engineering simulation,” says Bill Clark, CD-adapco senior vice president. “Wilson’s innovative vision makes them a natural partner and, with R Systems’ focus on enabling innovation, this is as good a match as a dual-threat quarterback in a spread offense.”
“R Systems is proud to offer CD-adapco’s Power-on-Demand STAR-CCM+ software as an addition to our HPC resources,” says R Systems Co-Founder Brian Kucic. “This will provide HPC researchers a complete tool kit that includes leading-edge hardware, software and services that will enhance capabilities through modeling and simulation in one location.”