The Mercedes F1 team has revealed it has been using AMD (NASDAQ: AMD) EPYC processors to boost the development of aerodynamics for its F1 cars, which helps to cut lap times. Due to recent rule changes, teams in F1 have been increasingly constrained by the cost of the hardware they use to improve the aero on their cars.
In a further plot twist, teams at the top of the championship table see their R&D spending in this area cut to a bigger extent than those teams at the lower end on points to help promote competition among teams with varying budgets. Mercedes’ success in recent years means it’s faced the biggest cuts.
There was a restriction on compute power for the 2020 season, in 2021 this shifted to a limit on how many model geometries could be tested plus a cap on overall spending. From $145 million for the 2021 season, it has been reduced to $140 million in 2022 and then will be $135 million in 2023. Servers used for CFD are now included in this budget, so is highly focused on performance and efficiency and doing as much as it can within the new budgets and time frames.
‘Our end goal is winning championships,’ says Simon Williams, Head of Aero Development Software at Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1. ‘The aerodynamics of the car is one of the biggest performance differentiators.’
‘Having the best CFD ( Computational Fluid Dynamics) on the grid is our aim. That obviously relates to the hardware that we are using’
‘It’s about trying to maximize the work that the CFD solve can do per clock cycle’
‘EPYC was the front runner in delivering the performance and space saving we needed,’ continues Williams. The Mercedes F1 team chose 2nd Generation AMD EPYC processors to replace the three and a half year-old system it had from another vendor.
‘We gained a 20 percent efficiency improvement on the old system. This is a big step because we’re usually looking at one or two percent gains. The new system is allowing us to focus our effort on aerodynamic performance. Reliability has been great too.’
‘If we miss even a few hours that puts us on the back foot, so it’s important that these systems are robust and reliable. This is something that EPYC has delivered. The time scales are so short from initial idea, to CFD, to testing in the tunnel, and then into the car. It could be measured in weeks. The fact that we’ve been able to deliver consistently over the year has been key.’
‘AMD EPYC processors have been a critical part of giving us a competitive edge over the others on the grid. It has been essential for winning races and championships. AMD has helped us meet the goal of faster iterative performance and cutting the time in half, thanks to 20 percent faster compute.’
Mercedes has won the last eight constructor’s world championships with its drivers, including Lewis Hamilton, winning the driver championship on all but one of those occasions. You can read more about the collaboration between AMD and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 here.