By Bruce Jenkins, President, Ora Research
Engineers who rely on simulation and analysis software have long been frustrated by constrained availability of HPC (high-performance computing) resources to run their complex, computationally demanding applications. Expensive on-premise hardware was often hard to justify based on sporadic or infrequent usage that fluctuates with project workloads, while leasing time from supercomputing centers could likewise be an exorbitant proposition. But the explosive growth of commodity cloud computing in the past handful of years has completely rewritten this equation, making ultra-high-end computing power accessible and affordable for even the smallest engineering groups today.
Here are four young, visionary organizations and initiatives, each with a mission to revolutionize availability of cloud HPC resources for engineering simulation.
AweSim is a partnership between the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), simulation and engineering experts, and industry to provide small to mid-sized manufacturers (SMMs) with simulation-driven design to enhance innovation and strengthen economic competitiveness. AweSim builds on OSC’s former Blue Collar Computing initiative to offer a new level of integration and commercialization of products and services for SMMs.
Dr. Alan Chalker, OSC Director of Technology Solutions and Director of AweSim, explains AweSim’s value proposition: “Simulation-driven design replaces physical product prototyping with less expensive computer simulations, reducing the time to take products to market, while improving quality and cutting costs. Smaller manufacturers largely are missing out on this advantage, because they cannot afford to leverage such solutions. We aim to level the playing field, giving the smaller companies equal access.”
AweSim says it chose its name “because a sense of awe is one of the elements that often accompanies the ‘Aha! moment,’ a specific point in time when a student, professor, researcher, inventor or engineer unlocks the key to a challenging question or problem. Sim, short for simulation, is the means by which OSC helps clients achieve those inspirational moments of awe.”
AweSim partners include AltaSim Technologies, Comet Solutions, Kinetic Vision, Nimbis Services, the Ohio Supercomputer Center, Ohio Third Frontier, Procter & Gamble, TotalSim and others.
Rescale is on a mission to “help transform stagnant, on-premise resources into an agile, optimized cloud HPC platform.” Founded in 2011 by Joris Poort, CEO, and Adam McKenzie, CTO, the firm offers software platforms and hardware infrastructure for companies to perform scientific and engineering simulations. Rescale’s cloud simulation and HPC platforms allow for infinite scale, customizable tools, and the ability to make on-the-fly adjustments.
“The ability to fully explore the design space requires access to the latest technology in order to improve product conceptions,” Rescale says. “A team can generate more comprehensive results faster and yield better designs the first time around, giving an organization a significant competitive edge. Rescale’s hardware and software elasticity speeds up product development and optimizes time-to-market.”
Rescale’s cloud simulation and HPC platforms provide a wide range of software and hardware tools in one central location, giving engineers and scientists immediate and unlimited access to the exact resources they need. The Rescale platform is available in three variants:
ScaleX Pro, the “professional” version, can be deployed within minutes to any organization, and is designed to let independent professionals and SMBs (small/medium businesses) perform complex engineering and scientific simulations.
ScaleX Developer is designed to let external application developers and independent software vendors build, test and deploy software directly to Rescale’s platforms, and perform native software integration with Rescale’s back-end.
ScaleX Enterprise, the enterprise deployment of Rescale’s platform, features a unified enterprise simulation platform and a powerful administrative portal, along with direct integrations and management of on-premise HPC resources, schedulers and software licenses.
SimScale is an engineering simulation platform accessible entirely through a standard web browser. The company describes its mission as “harnessing the power of the cloud and cutting-edge simulation technology to build not just another simulation software but an ecosystem in which simulation functionality, content and people are brought together in one place enabling them to build better products.” Founded in 2012, SimScale is led by Managing Directors David Heiny and Vincenz Dölle.
The SimScale platform supports a complete simulation workflow beginning with CAD model upload, CAD model preparation and automated mesh creation. Analysis types include structural mechanics of parts and assemblies (linear static, nonlinear and dynamic simulations, modal/frequency analysis), fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, particle dynamics and acoustics. After analysis, results can be visualized online in the SimScale post-processing environment, or downloaded.
The platform also has a “project library” that lets users browse and search a range of publicly available simulation projects, adapt them to their own needs, and run their own analysis based on them. Online project management is supported, and in what the company calls community features, the platform “enables everyone to profit from each other’s know-how.” With the online platform, users have access to unlimited computing capacity as needed, charged based on usage.
UberCloud is an online community and marketplace where engineers and scientists discover, try and buy “Computing as a Service” from cloud resource and software providers around the world. More specifically, the organization calls itself an “online Community, Marketplace, and Container Software Factory for engineers, scientists and their service providers to discover, try and buy ubiquitous computing solutions on demand, in any cloud.”
Founded in 2012 by Wolfgang Gentzsch, President, and Burak Yenier, CEO, UberCloud has four main components:
The UberCloud Community offers free case studies, webinars and discussion forums to help users discover how to utilize “Computing as a Service” to make their businesses more competitive. Areas of research covered include aerodynamics, fluid flow, multiphysics, finite element analysis, computational chemistry and life sciences.
The UberCloud Experiment, aimed at users who need to run compute-intensive engineering and scientific simulations, offers free trials for up to 1000 CPU core hours on its fast computing clusters. It has carried out more than 150 such projects to date.
The UberCloud Marketplace, a “one-stop-shop to get access to computing resources and fully bundled solutions, on-demand,” offers “Computing and Software as a Service” for professional simulation projects. Users can get additional computing resources, storage capacity, software licenses and expert consulting.
Finally, for software developers and providers – in-house, open-source and commercial – UberCloud develops ready-to-run Application Software Containers intended to ease the usability, accessibility and portability challenges in the development, execution and maintenance of engineering and scientific applications in public and private cloud environments.