0 to 100 KPH in 3.3 Seconds! NTHU Builds Electric Formula Student Race Cars with GIGABYTE

Representing Hsinchu’s Tsing Hua University, NTHU Racing is one of Taiwan’s top Formula Student racing teams. In 2019, its electric formula student race car, the “TH04”, took second place in Formula SAE Japan. In August of 2022, its new and improved, 100% manufactured in Taiwan “TH06” raced for the gold in Formula Student Germany. Tsing Hua University built the “TH06” using GIGABYTE Technology’s W771-Z00 and W331-Z00 Tower Server/Workstation products. From finite element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling and analysis during the design phase, to racing simulations and experimenting with new tech during the testing phase, GIGABYTE servers provided NTHU Racing with the processing power and versatility it needed to engineer a high-performing electric vehicle that can go from 0 to 100 kph in 3.3 seconds—almost on par with Tesla’s Model S, which can go from 0 to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds.
The thunder of engines. The odor of burnt rubber. A checkered flag waving beneath a startling sky, above young hearts yearning to make their mark on history.

To a layperson, automobile racing may seem like the pastime of motorsport enthusiasts and the vanity projects of big auto brands. But an engineer looks at a race car and sees something more. They see the care and expertise that went into the design; they see, too, the skill and daring it takes to push the machine to its limit. Every car that rolls out of the shop is a feat of human ingenuity. A car that outperforms its peers is an achievement of the highest order.

Formula Student, a globe-spanning series of engineering design competitions, uses auto racing to test the theoretical knowledge of students in a practical context. By asking student teams to design and build their own formula-style racing vehicles, the organizers provide a platform for brilliant young minds to demonstrate their engineering skills. Since its conception in the late 1970s, Formula Student has held races around the world. It has hosted teams from over 1,000 universities.

Located in Hsinchu, Taiwan’s Tsing Hua University (NTHU) is a comprehensive research university renowned for its science and technology programs. It is also an avid participant in Formula Student. The NTHU Racing Team is made up of more than 70 students from a diverse coalition of colleges, including power mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, computer science, economics, and more. This motley crew of race car aficionados has taken the world by storm. In 2019, NTHU Racing’s electric formula race car, the “TH04”, took second place in Formula SAE Japan. On the Formula Student Electric World Ranking List, NTHU Racing ranked number 23 out of 203 universities in 2022. It beat out some of the world’s most prestigious institutes—including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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In 2022, NTHU Racing set its sights on Formula Student Germany, which was held in August in Hockenheim—home of the Hockenheimring and the Formula One German Grand Prix. NTHU Racing was represented by its newest champion: the “TH06”, an electric formula student race car that's 100% manufactured in Taiwan. Weighing in at 245 kilograms and running on 80 kilowatts of electric power, the TH06 is a four-wheel drive vehicle that can go from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour (kph) in 3.3 seconds. What does that mean? Consider the fact that a topline Tesla Model S needs 2.6 seconds to accelerate from a standstill to 60 miles per hour (the equivalent of 100 kph).

The TH06 is a beast of a machine. NTHU Racing built it with GIGABYTE Technology’s W771-Z00 and W331-Z00 Tower Server/Workstation products. From finite element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling and analysis during the design and manufacturing phase, to racing simulations and new tech applications during the testing phase, the W771-Z00 and W331-Z00 provide the processing power and usability the student team needed to build state-of-the-art electric formula race cars. What’s more, NTHU did all this using Taiwanese tech and mostly made-in-Taiwan components—similar to the spirit of the Hon Hai-led MIH Consortium—so that the TH06 can fully represent Taiwan on the international stage.

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Design and Manufacturing: Enterprise-grade Computing Powered by AMD CPUs and GPUs
Designing an entire car from scratch is a monumental undertaking. Even before the first parts of the frame are soldered together, and even before the first sets of gears are assembled, a lot of grueling work must be done—on computers.

According to Danny Lin (林庭偉), Captain of NTHU Racing, there are over 4,000 components in a formula student race car. Each part of the TH06 had to be rendered and assembled virtually using computer-aided design (CAD) software. The 3D models of key elements, such as the electric vehicle’s motor, inverter, and tires, needed to be tested with programming and numeric computing platforms, such as MATLAB.

Even then, the design process is far from the finish line. The computer model of the race car must be subjected to a full set of analyses. One example is computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling and analysis, which focuses on the vehicle’s centerline streamline, pressure contour, and velocity profile. This helps to reduce wind resistance and improve the race car’s speed. Another example is finite element analysis (FEA), which checks the vehicle’s steel frame, composite material, chassis, and accumulator. FEA is used to understand how each part of the car will react to stress, vibration, fatigue, and other factors that may affect performance or safety.

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The powerful GIGABYTE W771-Z00 tower server/workstation brings enterprise-grade computing prowess straight to the desktop. NTHU Racing uses it for a lot of the heavy lifting during the design and manufacturing process of the electric formula race car, including computational fluid dynamics modelling and analysis, and finite element analysis.
GIGABYTE W771-Z00 and W331-Z00 are capable of handling these computationally intensive, iterative computation workloads. This is because they are outfitted with cutting-edge central processing units (CPUs) and general-purpose graphics processing units (GPGPUs) provided by AMD. The W771-Z00 is powered by AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper™ PRO 3995WX CPU and AMD Radeon™ RX 6800 XT GPU. The W331-Z00 runs on AMD Ryzen™ 9 5950X CPU and AMD Radeon™ RX 6800 XT GPU. Through a process known as heterogeneous computing, the two servers are able to accelerate NTHU Racing’s design process and help them bring their magnum opus into existence.

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The AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper™ PRO processor is specially designed for workstation users that work with rendering or the creation of visual effects. This market sector encompasses more than animation studios or render farms; engineering, data science, and oil & gas exploration can also benefit from the CPUs’ high number of cores, leading single or multi-thread performance, and incredible throughput via PCIe lanes. AMD Radeon™ RX 6800 XT GPU is a new generation of workstation GPUs that is ideal for mainstream CAD applications and media or entertainment-related workloads. Based on the AMD RDNA™2 architecture, it provides hardware-based ray tracing and variable rate shading (VRS) to deliver performance improvements across the board.

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Captain Danny Lin uses an example to vividly illustrate how GIGABYTE’s servers are contributing to NTHU Racing’s success. “Computational fluid dynamics is arguably the most compute-intensive part of the design process. High-end processors are needed to handle these workloads. A normal computer may take one or two days just to run one simulation. By using GIGABYTE, we are able to complete the same task in a third, or even a quarter of the time.”
Testing and Practicing: Excellent Versatility for Different Test Environments
The computational and versatility features of the W771-Z00 and W331-Z00 are a boon to NTHU Racing beyond the design process. A prototype vehicle must be tested in the field and continuously upgraded. This is usually done through test drives. However, a student team may not have access to such facilities. Not to mention, there is a dearth of racing circuits in Taiwan.
The GIGABYTE W331-Z00 is a versatile tower server/workstation that offers convenient and optimal versatility. NTHU Racing runs racing simulations on it to test prototypes and prepare for electric vehicle racing. It also develops autonomous driving tech to prepare for future races designed for self-driving cars.
NTHU Racing overcame this hurdle by running a racing simulator on the GIGABYTE tower server/workstation. The set-up looks almost like an arcade-style racing game, complete with a driver’s seat, a steering wheel, a stick, and a flat-screen monitor to simulate road conditions. To an outsider, this may look like a contender for the metaverse. But for NTHU students, this is a good way to help drivers accommodate to the racetrack and hone their skills—at any time, in any weather.

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There is another reason why the W771-Z00 and W331-Z00’s versatility and usability is essential to NTHU Racing’s goal of winning the gold. Since Formula Student revolves around engineering knowledge, the application of cutting-edge automotive tech is a viable way for the teams to put themselves on the map. NTHU Racing has already made the choice to focus on electric vehicles, because they see the upcoming trend of electric automobiles in the near future. Besides electric vehicles, what other new tech may pave the way for a Taiwanese university to pull ahead of its peers?

The answer, according to NTHU Racing, is autonomous vehicles—self-driving cars that have advanced into the upper strata of ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems). Many universities across Taiwan are already researching self-driving tech, and Formula Student has announced exclusive races for autonomous vehicles. Even as NTHU Racing prepares for electric vehicle competitions, the team is also running driverless simulations on the GIGABYTE servers, so that the Taiwanese team may have an edge in future Formula Student races.

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A member of NTHU Racing describes GIGABYTE W771-Z00 and W331-Z00 in this way: “The diverse selection of expansion slots and the optimal thermal design allow us to install or remove different modules according to our need. The powerful GIGABYTE workstations save us a lot of rendering time, so we can achieve more design and computing work with much less effort!”

The W771-Z00 is equipped with components that ensure optimal PCIe 4.0 signal quality, such as PCB, PCIe slots, and M.2 connectors. It supports up to four double-wide accelerators, which help it deliver high levels of performance for 3D rendering, deep learning, and high performance computing (HPC). The AMD Ryzen™ Threadrippper™ PRO platform offers eight DIMM slots for 8-channel DDR4-3200 memory. In terms of storage, users can benefit from a mix of hot-swappable HDD and SSD bays.

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GIGABYTE is pleased to support NTHU Racing’s effort to develop groundbreaking formula student race cars with its advanced server products. The nurturing of bright young minds is in keeping with GIGABYTE’s long-term CSR, ESG, and SDGs-related efforts, as well as its corporate vision: “Upgrade Your Life”.
The W331-Z00 supports PCIe 4.0, which can provide higher bandwidth for GPUs and faster storage. Like the W771-Z00, it also offers multiple DIMM slots for memory modules. NVMe and SATA storage options are available to fulfill the workstation user’s hot and cold data processing requirements.《Glossary: What is NVMe?

As for thermal design, Automatic Fan Speed Control is enabled in the majority of GIGABYTE’s air-cooled servers. The speed of individual fans will automatically adjust according to feedback from temperature sensors placed strategically in the server. This helps to achieve an optimal balance between cooling and power efficiency.
GIGABYTE Believes in Nurturing the Best and Brightest in Taiwan
The two faculty advisors of NTHU Racing are Dr. Chao-An Lin (林昭安), Associate Dean, Chairman of Interdisciplinary Program of Engineering (IPE), and Professor of Power Mechanical Engineering (PME); and Dr. Pei-Jen Wang (王培仁), Professor of PME and Chairman of the Scientific Instrument Center. Both professors have expressed their pride in and support for the student racing team.

“From the start, I felt that NTHU had to throw its hat into the ring, so we may know where we stand on the global stage,” says Dr. Lin.

GIGABYTE Technology is pleased to be part of Tsing Hua University’s effort to nurture the best and brightest students in Taiwan. By using the most advanced server products to develop groundbreaking formula student race cars, NTHU Racing has every chance to take the gold in the Formula Student competitions and win recognition on the world stage. GIGABYTE is renowned for its commitment to CSR (corporate social responsibility), ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance), and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Helping one of Taiwan’s top universities advance its vision of technological education is in keeping with these efforts, as well as the GIGABYTE motto: “Upgrade Your Life”—which is a sincere conviction that brilliant young minds can use high tech solutions to change our world for the better.

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