Falken’s parent company, Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd. (SRI) has become one of the first industrial sector users to access the world’s most powerful computer, the new ‘exascale’ Fugaku supercomputer. SRI is using this high-performance computer to expand its materials simulation capabilities at the smallest particle level, which is supporting the development of long-lasting vehicle tyres required for future mobility.
SRI and Falken’s tyre engineers previously used Japan’s K-supercomputer to launch its 4D NANO Design process that led to a step change in performance of Falken’s tyre range, resulting in an ever-growing list of accolades and OE fitments. The powerful Fugaku supercomputer – which has up to 100 times the application performance of its predecessor, and is capable of performing approximately 442 quadrillion calculations per second – will bring further advancements. It will support the chemistry progress needed for next-generation efficient, durable ‘smart tyres’, developed in response to the changing requirements that connected, autonomous and electrified vehicles need to contribute to the mobility society of the future.
One key application of Fugaku will be to advance Performance Sustaining Technology (PST). PST prevents the decline in tyre performance that occurs over time due to wear and tear, thereby allowing tyres to maintain like-new performance for longer. One of the major challenges in developing this technology is that it requires a precise understanding of the chemical changes occurring within rubber at the molecular level during tyre usage, so that these chemical changes can then be controlled. With the Fugaku supercomputer, SRI and Falken are working to further advance rubber materials simulation technology to accurately simulate not only molecular behaviour, but also the actual chemical changes.
“As we look to the near future, the role of tyres will change. With more autonomy and connectivity, tyres will be smarter, responding to scenarios, changing conditions with less input from the driver,” says Dr Bernd Löwenhaupt, managing director, Sumitomo Rubber Europe. “They will also need to perform over a longer lifespan. Fugaku provides a crucial tool for us to deliver those attributes and continue to be a leader in advanced rubber technology.”
Access to the supercomputer and its 158,976 central processing units (CPU) has, until now, been reserved for scientific research, including examining the effect of masks on the spread of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. From March 2021, SRI will be one of the first corporate users for the machine, which is named after Mount Fuji. Its performance surpasses the combined performance of the next four supercomputers on the top 500 list.