Performance of CPU and GPU HPC Architectures for off-design aircraft simulation

Mike Turner, Jamil Appa, Neil Ashton
Zenotech, 510 Bristol Business Park, Bristol, BS16 1EJ, UK
AIAA Scitech Forum, 2021


   title={Performance of CPU and GPU HPC Architectures for off-design aircraft simulations},

   author={Appa, Jamil and Turner, Mike and Ashton, Neil},

   booktitle={AIAA Scitech 2021 Forum},




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This paper presents a detailed analysis of the relative performance and cost of GPU and CPU architectures for a full aircraft RANS simulation using the CFD code zCFD. Using Amazon Web Services as the platform, several generations of NVIDIA GPUs are assessed (T4, V100, and A100) and compared to x86 Intel Broadwell and Skylake CPUs. It is found that for the same computational setup and mesh, one Amazon EC2 p4d.24xlarge instance (containing eight NVIDIA A100 GPUs) provides the same run-time as 2,160 cores (60 nodes) of the Intel Skylake Amazon EC2 c5n.18xlarge. At the maximum number of nodes tested (100 CPU nodes and 10 GPU nodes – each containing 8 GPUs) the GPU-based instance is 2.8x faster than the x86 Intel CPU-based instance (Amazon EC2 c5n.18xlarge) for half the cost. It is hoped these results will provide extra evidence to support the continued focus on CFD code development to support GPUs and will help to make high-fidelity simulations more practical for engineering companies.
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