OSC Launches ‘AweSim’ Online Supercomputing Marketplace

By Tiffany Trader

December 3, 2013

A few weeks ago, the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) began rolling out a new supercomputing initiative aimed at putting HPC modeling and simulation tools within reach of more commercial users. SC13 provided the official launch pad for the new program, called AweSim, described by its backers as “an innovative commercial marketplace consisting of web-based app store, supporting infrastructure and app development tools.”

The impetus for the effort is to make HPC more affordable to the industrial community, especially the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are integral to the economy yet often cannot afford such technologies.

Kevin Wohlever, director of the Shared Infrastructure (SI) division of the Ohio Technology Consortium, writes about the “tangible benefits” of simulation-driven design.

“Simulation-driven design replaces physical product prototyping with faster and less expensive computer simulations, reducing the time to take products to market, while improving quality and cutting costs,” he states. “Unfortunately, many smaller manufacturers are missing out on this competitive advantage, because they cannot afford to invest in hardware, software or staff training. With our program, all that changes.”

The $6.4 million public-private initiative is funded through Ohio’s Third Frontier Commission with additional investment in the form of matching funds coming from project partners Procter & Gamble, Intel, AltaSim Technologies, TotalSim USA, Kinetic Vision and Nimbis Services.

AweSim has its roots in the Blue Collar Computing (BCC) initiative, the commercial HPC cloud service operated by OSC and Nimbis Services. Apps and development tools will be provided by OSC and tightly integrated into the service. Other partners will be able to add their own apps to the marketplace. Consulting will be available as an add-on service.

Although AweSim just launched, OSC is no stranger to industrial HPC outreach. As Alan Chalker, Director of AweSim, explains, making HPC resources available to industry goes back to former Ohio Governor Richard Celeste’s 1987 state-of-the-state address:

“To attract and retain industry, we must have the most sophisticated and advanced computer technology possible,” he said. “The Ohio Board of Regents has organized a consortium of universities to buy a supercomputer. I will recommend funding for that supercomputer to link our universities and industries, giving researchers an essential tool to conduct the most basic scientific research and to solve the most practical design and manufacturing problems of our industry.”

OSC, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary, has essentially been in the HPC as a Service biz since 1987, although the number of compute hours that gets allocated has increased by a few orders of magnitude. In the past fiscal year, the center connected nearly two dozen businesses with a total of approximately 12 million CPU hours, at a cost of pennies per hour.

For more on this important story, check out feature coverage at Digital Manufacturing Report.

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