Since 1986 - Covering the Fastest Computers in the World and the People Who Run Them

Language Flags
November 6, 2013

CAE Heads for Extreme Scaling

Tiffany Trader

Over at the Cray blog, Greg Clifford, Cray’s Manufacturing Segment Manager, writes about the evolution and current state of extreme scaling in CAE applications. Clifford claims that despite being steeped in the fast-moving field of HPC, some things remain the same for computer-aided engineering (CAE) workloads: 1) the demand for compute power has nearly doubled every year; and 2) the names of the ISV applications used for CAE simulations – e.g., NASTRAN, Abaqus, Fluent, LS-DYNA – haven’t changed much over the last two decades.

One major development that has occurred is an increased reliance on parallel processing to boost the performance of CAE apps. Clifford highlights the trend toward extreme scalability in the CAE applications, which he loosely defines as using more than 1,000 cores. He believes this is a turning point for CAE simulation.

For decades, the CAE field has relied on Moore’s Law-driven processor improvements along with increases in processor frequency to satisfy computing demand. As processor frequency has plateaued, the HPC industry has derived its FLOPs-per-processor improvements from multicore processors.

“Today it is common for large commercial CAE environments to have 10,000 cores available and several organizations are over 50,000 cores,” notes Clifford. “Of course, to leverage the increased performance of a multi-core processor implies the analysis is using more compute cores per simulation (i.e. more parallel scaling). However, most manufacturing organizations have used the increase in total compute power to increase the overall throughput (i.e. capacity computing) and have not scaled up the performance for individual simulations (i.e. capability computing).”

In this ultra-competitive era, manufacturers are dealing with the dual requirements of higher simulation fidelity and tighter design schedules. They are looking to significant boost the turnaround time on large jobs – not 10 percent faster but 10 times faster, notes Clifford. As most CAE simulations are operating in 250-core territory, extreme parallel scaling offers a path forward.

In order for this extreme scaling to really take off in CAE, it will need a high-value simulation field to take a leadership role in leveraging the technology, states Clifford. He identifies computational fluid dynamics (CFD) as a promising candidate. It will also require collaboration between the system experts and the ISVs. Cray, for example, worked with ANSYS to improve Fluent scaling in recent versions to over 10,000 cores. The figure below illustrates the performance for an automotive external aerodynamics simulation, which employed strong scaling to over 12,000 cores.

Cray-ANSYS-Truck111m-scaling-400x

SC14 Virtual Booth Tours

AMD SC14 video AMD Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video
Cray SC14 video Cray Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video
Datasite SC14 video DataSite and RedLine @ SC14
Click to Play Video
HP SC14 video HP Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video
IBM DCS3860 and Elastic Storage @ SC14 video IBM DCS3860 and Elastic Storage @ SC14
Click to Play Video
IBM Flash Storage
@ SC14 video IBM Flash Storage @ SC14  
Click to Play Video
IBM Platform @ SC14 video IBM Platform @ SC14
Click to Play Video
IBM Power Big Data SC14 video IBM Power Big Data @ SC14
Click to Play Video
Intel SC14 video Intel Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video
Lenovo SC14 video Lenovo Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video
Mellanox SC14 video Mellanox Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video
Panasas SC14 video Panasas Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video
Quanta SC14 video Quanta Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video
Seagate SC14 video Seagate Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video
Supermicro SC14 video Supermicro Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video