Democratization of HPC Part 1: Simulation Sheds Light on Building Dispute

By Wolfgang Gentzsch

September 20, 2018

This is the first of three articles demonstrating the growing acceptance of High Performance Computing especially in new user communities and application areas. Major reasons for this trend are the ongoing improvements in user-friendly simulation software, the continuous performance improvement of HPC servers, and the easy and affordable access to HPC resources in the cloud. In this article series we present three use cases: we demonstrate how a US law firm applied multi-physics building simulation using HPC to prove building defects at a client’s property, how a class of ninth-graders in Norway designed and built a flying boat with a novel CAE software, and how India’s National Institute of Health was able for Schizophrenia to replace the current highly risky procedure of brain-invasive operation with a revolutionary non-invasive low-risk treatment based on HPC.

Use Case 1: Simulating Moisture Transfer in a Residential Condo Tower Helped PBBL Law Offices to Prove a Client’s Case

The Problem

One year ago, PBBL Law Offices in Las Vegas/Orlando approached UberCloud and Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics asking for HPC support in a lawsuit dealing with a twin tower residential condominium. An extensive expert investigation established exterior plaster failure, water intrusion at improper window and roof installations, and high interior humidity levels with apparent biological growth (ABG) observed on interior walls, baseboards and between layers of interior gypsum board at unit partitions. Mechanical testing determined that condominium unit interiors were often under negative pressure, drawing in high-humidity, un-conditioned exterior air.  A mechanical engineering evaluation found that the air conditioning units (serving each condominium) were improperly sized to adequately manage humidity.

Competing experts suggested that defective exterior plaster was a cause of the high humidity conditions. Exterior plaster failure included blistering of the coating system and saponification of the coating and substrate. Moreover, these experts contended that the existing mechanical system for each condominium unit was adequate to handle the dehumidification such that the ABG was caused by the moisture intrusion through the exterior wall system. Their opinion was that the negative air pressure was acceptable for 15/20 story towers.

Because of these competing opinions and the inability to field test the experts’ hypotheses, PBBL Law, for the first time in their history, chose HPC modelling to determine whether damage was caused by moisture transfer through the plaster coated exterior walls or that it was the result of negative pressure in the living units.  Also, by advancing the modelling, HPC was used to determine the effect of the negative pressure and high humidity in the condominium living environment if left unmitigated.

The Project Team

The project team consisted of the end-users David Pursiano and Robert Simon from PBBL Law Offices, the software and expertise providers Florian Antretter and Matthias Pazold from Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, and the HPC Cloud expert Baris Inaloz from UberCloud.

The Software WUFI

To accomplish this the team used the WUFI Plus simulation environment, a hygrothermal building simulation software from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics (IBP) in Germany, part of the hygrothermal simulation suite WUFI which is based on the calculation of the coupled heat and moisture transport across building components, like walls, roofs and floors. They simulate the temporal development of the heat and moisture profiles within a component and the heat and moisture exchange on the component surface. In addition, solar radiation through windows, inner heat and moisture sources or sinks, HVAC systems and ventilation are considered.

Three-dimensional visualization of the investigated hygrothermal simulation building model.

Parametric Study

With four different compute instances in the Microsoft Azure cloud, a benchmark was done to check the computation times and identify the ‘sweet spot’ system configuration. Tested were the 2-core DS11, 4-core DS12, 8-core DS13 and 16-core DS14 compute instances for best price/performance. The simulation period for the building model was set to one year. Table 1 shows the elapsed computation time on the different machines.

Table 1: Simulation time test results.

Simulations DS11 (2core) DS12 (4core) DS13 (8core) DS14 (16core)
1 0:25:10 0:16:35 0:11:14 0:06:03
2 simultaneous 0:24:45 0:17:10 0:08:42 elapsed time
0:12:22 0:08:35 0:04:21 per simulation
4 simultaneous (>>25min) 0:34:17 0:16:00 elapsed time
. 0:08:34 0:04:00 per simulation
6 simultaneous 0:56:00 0:21:07 elapsed time
0:09:20 0:03:31 per simulation
8 simultaneous 0:25:25 elapsed time
0:03:11 per simulation
Time per simulation 00:25:10 00:12:22 0:08:34 00:03:11

Interpretation of Computation Times

The DS11 took 25 minutes 10 seconds to simulate one year of the building, DS12 needed 16 minutes 35 seconds. During the simulation of one building model the CPU usage was lower than 100%. Due to this, the simulation was started twice at the same time (two simultaneous simulations), to get 100% CPU usage. Both simulations were finished in 24 minutes and 45 seconds. Regarding this and running two simulations at the same time on the DS12 machine it can be concluded that the simulation of one year lasts 12 minutes and 22 seconds on the 4-core machine. With the DS14 the test was done running the simulation up to 8 times in parallel. Those 8 simulations running parallel were finished in 25 minutes and 25 seconds. Concluding this, a simulation of one year takes 3 minutes and 11 seconds on the 16-core machine.

For the final parameter study, the DS14 with 16 cores was chosen, and set to run 8 simulations at the same time. Because parameter studies consist of independent simulations we’d be able to run 16 simulations in parallel on two DS14, or 32 simulations on four DS14, thus reducing the total simulation time from more than one month on the user’s workstation to less than two days in the Microsoft Azure Cloud!

Results

The parametric study resulted in 583 simulations investigating the building behavior depending on different conditions. With different count of simulated years per simulation (3, 5 or 8) in total 2790 years were simulated. Nearly 36 GB zipped data are stored, containing “the main” simulation results, like the air and material temperatures and humidity, and the material water content, for each hour in each simulated year.

Conclusions

For this specific project it was concluded, that the coating damages are not related to high indoor air relative humidity but to the vapor permeability of the coating and the driving rain leakage behind coating. Indoor climate humidity and mold issues are not related to coating permeability but to HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) equipment and infiltration of unconditioned and untreated outside air.

“The impact of multiple uncertain parameters on coating damages, elevated indoor humidity and mold issues can be assessed only with this kind of large-scale parametric simulations” said Florian Antretter from IBP. “The simulation models can be used to predict the potential future performance and related risk for renovation measures.”

“This study also demonstrates that, in general, multi-physics building simulation using HPC Cloud computing is accessible, affordable, and beneficial for our private clients”, added David Pursiano from PBBL Law. “It can be applied for initial design and repair to reduce downstream risk.”

HPC cloud computing enables the prediction of future performance of buildings by simulation for a broad range of input parameters in a reasonable time period due to the performance benefits with HPC cloud computing. Invasive / destructive building forensics can be reduced. Together with the ability to separate design, material, and workmanship deficiencies, the design process, potential forensic investigations, or litigation can draw huge benefits from utilizing HPC cloud computing with hygrothermal building simulation. Readers can download the detailed UberCloud Case Study #207.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

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

Google Announces Sixth-generation AI Chip, a TPU Called Trillium

May 17, 2024

On Tuesday May 14th, Google announced its sixth-generation TPU (tensor processing unit) called Trillium.  The chip, essentially a TPU v6, is the company's latest weapon in the AI battle with GPU maker Nvidia and clou Read more…

ISC 2024 Student Cluster Competition

May 16, 2024

The 2024 ISC 2024 competition welcomed 19 virtual (remote) and eight in-person teams. The in-person teams participated in the conference venue and, while the virtual teams competed using the Bridges-2 supercomputers at t Read more…

Grace Hopper Gets Busy with Science 

May 16, 2024

Nvidia’s new Grace Hopper Superchip (GH200) processor has landed in nine new worldwide systems. The GH200 is a recently announced chip from Nvidia that eliminates the PCI bus from the CPU/GPU communications pathway.  Read more…

Europe’s Race towards Quantum-HPC Integration and Quantum Advantage

May 16, 2024

What an interesting panel, Quantum Advantage — Where are We and What is Needed? While the panelists looked slightly weary — their’s was, after all, one of the last panels at ISC 2024 — the discussion was fascinat Read more…

The Future of AI in Science

May 15, 2024

AI is one of the most transformative and valuable scientific tools ever developed. By harnessing vast amounts of data and computational power, AI systems can uncover patterns, generate insights, and make predictions that Read more…

Some Reasons Why Aurora Didn’t Take First Place in the Top500 List

May 15, 2024

The makers of the Aurora supercomputer, which is housed at the Argonne National Laboratory, gave some reasons why the system didn't make the top spot on the Top500 list of the fastest supercomputers in the world. At s Read more…

Google Announces Sixth-generation AI Chip, a TPU Called Trillium

May 17, 2024

On Tuesday May 14th, Google announced its sixth-generation TPU (tensor processing unit) called Trillium.  The chip, essentially a TPU v6, is the company's l Read more…

Europe’s Race towards Quantum-HPC Integration and Quantum Advantage

May 16, 2024

What an interesting panel, Quantum Advantage — Where are We and What is Needed? While the panelists looked slightly weary — their’s was, after all, one of Read more…

The Future of AI in Science

May 15, 2024

AI is one of the most transformative and valuable scientific tools ever developed. By harnessing vast amounts of data and computational power, AI systems can un Read more…

Some Reasons Why Aurora Didn’t Take First Place in the Top500 List

May 15, 2024

The makers of the Aurora supercomputer, which is housed at the Argonne National Laboratory, gave some reasons why the system didn't make the top spot on the Top Read more…

ISC 2024 Keynote: High-precision Computing Will Be a Foundation for AI Models

May 15, 2024

Some scientific computing applications cannot sacrifice accuracy and will always require high-precision computing. Therefore, conventional high-performance c Read more…

Shutterstock 493860193

Linux Foundation Announces the Launch of the High-Performance Software Foundation

May 14, 2024

The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, is excited to announce the launch of the High-Performance Softw Read more…

ISC 2024: Hyperion Research Predicts HPC Market Rebound after Flat 2023

May 13, 2024

First, the top line: the overall HPC market was flat in 2023 at roughly $37 billion, bogged down by supply chain issues and slowed acceptance of some larger sys Read more…

Top 500: Aurora Breaks into Exascale, but Can’t Get to the Frontier of HPC

May 13, 2024

The 63rd installment of the TOP500 list is available today in coordination with the kickoff of ISC 2024 in Hamburg, Germany. Once again, the Frontier system at Read more…

Synopsys Eats Ansys: Does HPC Get Indigestion?

February 8, 2024

Recently, it was announced that Synopsys is buying HPC tool developer Ansys. Started in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1970 as Swanson Analysis Systems, Inc. (SASI) by John Swanson (and eventually renamed), Ansys serves the CAE (Computer Aided Engineering)/multiphysics engineering simulation market. Read more…

Nvidia H100: Are 550,000 GPUs Enough for This Year?

August 17, 2023

The GPU Squeeze continues to place a premium on Nvidia H100 GPUs. In a recent Financial Times article, Nvidia reports that it expects to ship 550,000 of its lat Read more…

Comparing NVIDIA A100 and NVIDIA L40S: Which GPU is Ideal for AI and Graphics-Intensive Workloads?

October 30, 2023

With long lead times for the NVIDIA H100 and A100 GPUs, many organizations are looking at the new NVIDIA L40S GPU, which it’s a new GPU optimized for AI and g Read more…

Choosing the Right GPU for LLM Inference and Training

December 11, 2023

Accelerating the training and inference processes of deep learning models is crucial for unleashing their true potential and NVIDIA GPUs have emerged as a game- Read more…

Shutterstock 1606064203

Meta’s Zuckerberg Puts Its AI Future in the Hands of 600,000 GPUs

January 25, 2024

In under two minutes, Meta's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, laid out the company's AI plans, which included a plan to build an artificial intelligence system with the eq Read more…

AMD MI3000A

How AMD May Get Across the CUDA Moat

October 5, 2023

When discussing GenAI, the term "GPU" almost always enters the conversation and the topic often moves toward performance and access. Interestingly, the word "GPU" is assumed to mean "Nvidia" products. (As an aside, the popular Nvidia hardware used in GenAI are not technically... Read more…

Nvidia’s New Blackwell GPU Can Train AI Models with Trillions of Parameters

March 18, 2024

Nvidia's latest and fastest GPU, codenamed Blackwell, is here and will underpin the company's AI plans this year. The chip offers performance improvements from Read more…

Some Reasons Why Aurora Didn’t Take First Place in the Top500 List

May 15, 2024

The makers of the Aurora supercomputer, which is housed at the Argonne National Laboratory, gave some reasons why the system didn't make the top spot on the Top Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Eyes on the Quantum Prize – D-Wave Says its Time is Now

January 30, 2024

Early quantum computing pioneer D-Wave again asserted – that at least for D-Wave – the commercial quantum era has begun. Speaking at its first in-person Ana Read more…

Shutterstock 1285747942

AMD’s Horsepower-packed MI300X GPU Beats Nvidia’s Upcoming H200

December 7, 2023

AMD and Nvidia are locked in an AI performance battle – much like the gaming GPU performance clash the companies have waged for decades. AMD has claimed it Read more…

The GenAI Datacenter Squeeze Is Here

February 1, 2024

The immediate effect of the GenAI GPU Squeeze was to reduce availability, either direct purchase or cloud access, increase cost, and push demand through the roof. A secondary issue has been developing over the last several years. Even though your organization secured several racks... Read more…

Intel Plans Falcon Shores 2 GPU Supercomputing Chip for 2026  

August 8, 2023

Intel is planning to onboard a new version of the Falcon Shores chip in 2026, which is code-named Falcon Shores 2. The new product was announced by CEO Pat Gel Read more…

The NASA Black Hole Plunge

May 7, 2024

We have all thought about it. No one has done it, but now, thanks to HPC, we see what it looks like. Hold on to your feet because NASA has released videos of wh Read more…

GenAI Having Major Impact on Data Culture, Survey Says

February 21, 2024

While 2023 was the year of GenAI, the adoption rates for GenAI did not match expectations. Most organizations are continuing to invest in GenAI but are yet to Read more…

How the Chip Industry is Helping a Battery Company

May 8, 2024

Chip companies, once seen as engineering pure plays, are now at the center of geopolitical intrigue. Chip manufacturing firms, especially TSMC and Intel, have b Read more…

Q&A with Nvidia’s Chief of DGX Systems on the DGX-GB200 Rack-scale System

March 27, 2024

Pictures of Nvidia's new flagship mega-server, the DGX GB200, on the GTC show floor got favorable reactions on social media for the sheer amount of computing po Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire