Appearing on a Screen Near You:

By Bob Cramblitt

August 18, 2006

[This article appeared in ANSYS Solutions Volume 7 Issue 3. For more information on ANSYS software, visit www.ansys.com.]

NASA used it to provide insight into complex flow physics for Discovery's redesigned external fuel tank, to interpret flight and wind-tunnel data, and to design tests with smaller-scale models.

CRAFT Tech uses it to study terabyte-sized fluid dynamic and combustive problems associated with weapons delivery systems for supersonic fighter jets.

Researchers at the National Energy Technology Laboratory and Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center use it to better understand complex hydrodynamics that can lead to safer and more energy-efficient pulp and paper manufacturing.

Embraer uses it to drive fully immersive virtual reality (VR) for engineering analysis, simulation and virtual testing.

And DaimlerChrysler used it to help fuel its triumphant return to NASCAR's Nextel stock car circuit after a 25-year absence.

It's extreme visualization, and, thanks to a combination of greater computing power at lower costs, major software advances, compatibility with major CAE solvers and ability to run on a variety of computing platforms, the technology is revolutionizing the way engineers and scientists see, analyze, communicate and interact with their computational results.

The Democratization of Visualization

Over the last 10 years, a remarkable transformation has occurred in high-end visualization: Capabilities that once were available only to a select few now are accessible to almost anyone on any platform for any simulation application.

Animated visualizations can be generated for CFD, FEA, crash analysis or even coupled simulations combining results from different vendors' simulation programs. Displays can range from a standard color screen to stereo using low-cost glasses to immersive virtual reality devices such as PowerWall and CAVEs.

Computing can be done on anything — from a laptop equipped with a decent graphics card to a desktop PC of any flavor (Windows, Linux or Mac OS X), to a high-end workstation cluster with dozens of nodes or high-capacity, shared-memory processors.

The power of visualization is no longer limited to analysts or visualization specialists. Free software such as EnLiten from Computational Engineering International (CEI) enables scientists and engineers to share their work with colleagues to create a greater understanding of problems and solutions.

A Quiet Revolution

The revolution in visualization did not announce itself with fanfare like the dot.com boom, and it didn't suffer from the bloated expectations that made the dot.com bubble burst. Instead, it occurred through steady building over the years, and the peak isn't anywhere in sight. Advances in visualization and growing user benefits are making strong progress year by year.

“People are awakening to the power of visualization,” says Kent Misegades, CEI president, “and with that awakening come new applications, new customers and greater penetration into the mainstream of large engineering, research and scientific organizations.”

As the technological and market leader in extreme visualization, CEI serves as a good benchmark for progress in this field. Here are just some of the milestones that have been achieved over the last six years:

    — Los Alamos National Laboratories and CEI break the one
    billion cell barrier for visualization in 1999 and reach 11.5 billion
    cells a year later. Eyes are now on 100 billion cells,
    inconceivable a decade ago.

    — Free tools such as EnLiten enable complex 3-D models and
    animations to be viewed and manipulated by anyone within the
    enterprise — even novices who don't have any visualization
    application on their desktops.

    — CEI's EnSight becomes available on 64-bit computers, enabling
    more complex visualizations with multivariate data to be cached on
    desktop systems.

    — Extreme visualization comes to the Apple Mac OS X, enabling
    animations generated on high-end servers to be shared with Mac
    users at home or on the road. CEI now provides interchangeable
    visualization tools for any computing platform and operating
    system.

    — A parallel rendering compositor developed by CEI achieves a
    world-record rendering speed of 3.17 billion polygons per second
    on a cluster of 76 standard PCs.

    — CEI folds its distributed rendering technology into a product
    called EnSight DR, the first commercial visualization application
    to bring parallel graphics to the user's desktop.

    — New features such as ray tracing and multiple lighting sources
    increase image realism, making it easier to communicate complex
    concepts to non-technical audiences.

Complementary Technologies

High-end visualization on EnSight is accessible to ANSYS and other CAE solver users through freely available interfaces provided by CEI. As a result, the strength of CFD, FEA and crash analysis simulation is complemented by the capabilities of EnSight.

“ANSYS products and EnSight scale very well on huge problems that are typical of the markets we serve,” says Marcus Reis of Engineering Simulation and Scientific Software (ESSS), a leading distributor of ANSYS and CEI software that provides simulation and visualization solutions for companies such as General Motors, Petrobras, Embraer, Embraco (Whirlpool), Electrolux and others. “Our customers have very demanding applications that require them to be able to quickly and easily visualize multiple results files with extensive transient analysis from ANSYS CFX and other software.”

A recent project initiated by Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI), CEI, ESSS and Matthew Koebbe, a consultant with GADAB Engineering, shows how extreme visualization can be used to understand fluid flows that cannot be accurately predicted by other testing methods.

Embraco of Brazil, a supplier of compressors and other products for Whirlpool, wants to better understand the flow within the suction muffler of a small hermetic refrigerating compressor used in household appliances. The challenge undertaken by Embraco researchers Fabian Fagotti and Celso Kenzo Takemori is to capture pressure fluctuations, such as noise, over a broad range of frequencies. Although this might sound relatively simple, just simulating internal pressures up to 10 MHz at various points could require a mesh of nearly 5 million nodes and 80,000 time steps.

ESSS is starting with a more coarse mesh and refining the model to see how far state-of-the-art computer technology can go in addressing Embraco's problem. ANSYS CFX was chosen as the solver because of its reputation for resolving fine-scale turbulent behavior. EnSight was selected as the visualization tool for a number of reasons, including its handling of complex and transient simulations, ability to read in results of multiple simulation cases for direct comparison and support of a scripting language for batch processing. SGI Prism hardware was used for the initial computing work.

Early results for the project are promising. Simulations showed pressure behaving as expected based on real-world use, and phenomena that couldn't be determined by experiments have been simulated in the computational realm. Quantified estimates of leakage, for example, have been determined by analysis of mass flows. Color-coded pathlines generated by EnSight are providing a better understanding of mixing within the compressor.

ESSS currently is working with Embraco to determine future directions for the project, although the initial stage already has fulfilled a major benefit of extreme visualization: enabling customers to see what they couldn't see before.

From Extreme to Pervasive

Although tremendous progress has been made in visualizing complex problems, in some ways the most exciting developments are still to come. Capabilities such as parallel processing, distributed rendering, photorealistic imaging and highly sophisticated animations not only are making their way to the desktop, but are being implemented so the complexities are hidden from the user. There will be more going on than ever before behind the nice, simple-to-use graphical user interface (GUI) — but the user will be blissfully unaware of it.

Some of the things that CEI is working on include greater parallel processing automation, GUI customization that speeds access to commonly used functionality, 2-D texture maps that increase image realism, lower-cost software for small shops and consultancies, and greater flexibility in compiling and editing animated videos.

“What we call 'extreme visualization' today will be commonplace, transparent and pervasive in the near future,” says Misegades. “We are automating the process to such an extent that 'post-processing' will be an extinct phrase — any engineer, scientist or researcher will be able to take results from practically any solver and easily turn out beautiful and revealing 3-D animations with little effort and few specialized skills.”

—–

Bob Cramblitt is principal of Cramblitt and Company (www.cramco.com), a technology communications firm. His articles on computer graphics, CAD/CAM, IT and other technology subjects have appeared in trade journals and Web sites worldwide.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

2017 Gordon Bell Prize Finalists Named

October 23, 2017

The three finalists for this year’s Gordon Bell Prize in High Performance Computing have been announced. They include two papers on projects run on China’s Sunway TaihuLight system and a third paper on 3D image recon Read more…

By John Russell

Data Vortex Users Contemplate the Future of Supercomputing

October 19, 2017

Last month (Sept. 11-12), HPC networking company Data Vortex held its inaugural users group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) bringing together about 30 participants from industry, government and academia t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AI Self-Training Goes Forward at Google DeepMind

October 19, 2017

DeepMind, Google’s AI research organization, announced today in a blog that AlphaGo Zero, the latest evolution of AlphaGo (the first computer program to defeat a Go world champion) trained itself within three days to play Go at a superhuman level (i.e., better than any human) – and to beat the old version of AlphaGo – without leveraging human expertise, data or training. Read more…

By Doug Black

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Transforming Genomic Analytics with HPC-Accelerated Insights

Advancements in the field of genomics are revolutionizing our understanding of human biology, rapidly accelerating the discovery and treatment of genetic diseases, and dramatically improving human health. Read more…

Researchers Scale COSMO Climate Code to 4888 GPUs on Piz Daint

October 17, 2017

Effective global climate simulation, sorely needed to anticipate and cope with global warming, has long been computationally challenging. Two of the major obstacles are the needed resolution and prolonged time to compute Read more…

By John Russell

Data Vortex Users Contemplate the Future of Supercomputing

October 19, 2017

Last month (Sept. 11-12), HPC networking company Data Vortex held its inaugural users group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) bringing together ab Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AI Self-Training Goes Forward at Google DeepMind

October 19, 2017

DeepMind, Google’s AI research organization, announced today in a blog that AlphaGo Zero, the latest evolution of AlphaGo (the first computer program to defeat a Go world champion) trained itself within three days to play Go at a superhuman level (i.e., better than any human) – and to beat the old version of AlphaGo – without leveraging human expertise, data or training. Read more…

By Doug Black

Student Cluster Competition Coverage New Home

October 16, 2017

Hello computer sports fans! This is the first of many (many!) articles covering the world-wide phenomenon of Student Cluster Competitions. Finally, the Student Read more…

By Dan Olds

Intel Delivers 17-Qubit Quantum Chip to European Research Partner

October 10, 2017

On Tuesday, Intel delivered a 17-qubit superconducting test chip to research partner QuTech, the quantum research institute of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands. The announcement marks a major milestone in the 10-year, $50-million collaborative relationship with TU Delft and TNO, the Dutch Organization for Applied Research, to accelerate advancements in quantum computing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fujitsu Tapped to Build 37-Petaflops ABCI System for AIST

October 10, 2017

Fujitsu announced today it will build the long-planned AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure (ABCI) which is set to become the fastest supercomputer system in Japan Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Chips – A Veritable Smorgasbord?

October 10, 2017

For the first time since AMD's ill-fated launch of Bulldozer the answer to the question, 'Which CPU will be in my next HPC system?' doesn't have to be 'Whichever variety of Intel Xeon E5 they are selling when we procure'. Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

Delays, Smoke, Records & Markets – A Candid Conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro

October 5, 2017

Earlier this month, Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire and I had a very personal conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. Cray has been on something of a Cinderell Read more…

By Tiffany Trader & Tom Tabor

Intel Debuts Programmable Acceleration Card

October 5, 2017

With a view toward supporting complex, data-intensive applications, such as AI inference, video streaming analytics, database acceleration and genomics, Intel i Read more…

By Doug Black

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

NERSC Scales Scientific Deep Learning to 15 Petaflops

August 28, 2017

A collaborative effort between Intel, NERSC and Stanford has delivered the first 15-petaflops deep learning software running on HPC platforms and is, according Read more…

By Rob Farber

Oracle Layoffs Reportedly Hit SPARC and Solaris Hard

September 7, 2017

Oracle’s latest layoffs have many wondering if this is the end of the line for the SPARC processor and Solaris OS development. As reported by multiple sources Read more…

By John Russell

US Coalesces Plans for First Exascale Supercomputer: Aurora in 2021

September 27, 2017

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, in Arlington, Va., yesterday (Sept. 26), it was revealed that the "Aurora" supercompute Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last w Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

GlobalFoundries Puts Wind in AMD’s Sails with 12nm FinFET

September 24, 2017

From its annual tech conference last week (Sept. 20), where GlobalFoundries welcomed more than 600 semiconductor professionals (reaching the Santa Clara venue Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Amazon Debuts New AMD-based GPU Instances for Graphics Acceleration

September 12, 2017

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) streaming service, AppStream 2.0, introduced a new GPU instance called Graphics Design intended to accelerate graphics. The Read more…

By John Russell

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Delays, Smoke, Records & Markets – A Candid Conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro

October 5, 2017

Earlier this month, Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire and I had a very personal conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. Cray has been on something of a Cinderell Read more…

By Tiffany Trader & Tom Tabor

Cray Moves to Acquire the Seagate ClusterStor Line

July 28, 2017

This week Cray announced that it is picking up Seagate's ClusterStor HPC storage array business for an undisclosed sum. "In short we're effectively transitioning the bulk of the ClusterStor product line to Cray," said CEO Peter Ungaro. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Software Tools to Ease FPGA Programming

September 5, 2017

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have a reputation for being difficult to program, requiring expertise in specialty languages, like Verilog or VHDL. Easin Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Advances Web-based Quantum Programming

September 5, 2017

IBM Research is pairing its Jupyter-based Data Science Experience notebook environment with its cloud-based quantum computer, IBM Q, in hopes of encouraging a new class of entrepreneurial user to solve intractable problems that even exceed the capabilities of the best AI systems. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

HPC Chips – A Veritable Smorgasbord?

October 10, 2017

For the first time since AMD's ill-fated launch of Bulldozer the answer to the question, 'Which CPU will be in my next HPC system?' doesn't have to be 'Whichever variety of Intel Xeon E5 they are selling when we procure'. Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This