High-Performance Computing (HPC) isn’t just for high end corporations and large scientific organisations. The cost of processing, coupled with the raw power of today’s servers means that small and mid-sized businesses can also benefit from the advanced simulation that HPC provides.
Simulation can assist with many elements of product design, says Stephan Gillich, Director of Technical Computing for the Intel EMEA Datacenter Group.
It’s particularly useful for computer-aided engineering e.g. in classical fields like mechanics and fluid dynamics, but also in finance life sciences and digital content creation, says Gillich.
The key point is that simulation is no longer just in areas where it has already been used for a long time, such as the aerodynamic design of planes. Now, you’ll find it in other product design areas to determine, for example, what happens to the components of a mobile phone when it hits the ground accidentally.
“Mainstream businesses can now access simulating compute capacity on HPC clusters more easily and at a very reasonable cost,” says Gillich. This is enabling them to go beyond the limitations of the workstations they currently use.
The small automotive supply engineering house Dörrer + Broßmann carried out a proof-of-concept to see how a cluster based on the Intel® Xeon® processor E5 product family can enable it to carry out more-sophisticated engineering simulations more quickly.
The more precise simulation services also open up opportunities for Dörrer + Broßmann to pitch for business that was previously too compute-intensive for the company to carry out.
From a technology perspective, the server platform has improved, offering more powerful processors with more cores that are capable of handling more data in one operation, for example using Advanced Vector Extensions.
Besides the processor, sophisticated network solutions such as Intel® TrueScale, and improved storage solution using Intel SSD, provide additional big improvements. On top of this, the software can be optimised so that processing is parallelised and makes the most of available compute cycles. The result is that we see the potential and benefits of simulation on a scale never seen before by SMEs: a “democratization” of HPC, comments Gillich.
Sectors such as life science are growing as businesses – as well as scientists – take hold of the opportunities that HPC offers them.
Technical computing Cloud technologies promise flexible resources with on demand computing, democratizing even further.
However, in order to deliver customers a high-performance experience without the complexity, there needs to be integration. “Basically people need the sort of interface they’re used to on a single workstation,” says Gillich.
The main business benefits of HPC simulation are these:
- firms have the opportunity to increase their competitiveness
- bring better products to market faster.
They can also cut product design costs, for example by simulating drop tests, product breakages, or the effect of water or pressure damage. There are cost-effective, entry-level HPC packages supported by hardware and software vendors such as ANSYS, Altair, and others, and new clusters are easier to set up.
Data centre and server management has also come a long way, with today’s servers, and cloud-based Technical Computing solutions offering flexibility for changing workloads, and faster time to setup.
Have you considered moving from workstation to HPC computing?