Unleashing the Power of OpenFOAM for CFD

October 15, 2018

OpenFOAM offers widely used open-source tools for computational fluid dynamics, but scalability can be a challenge. Research indicates that Intel® processors may help users scale up their OpenFOAM workloads.

If you’re not in a line of work that revolves around computational fluid dynamics, you may have never heard of OpenFOAM. But chances are you have benefitted from this free, open-source software toolkit for CFD, because OpenFOAM is used in the design and engineering of everything from airplanes and automobiles to propellers, pumps and pipes.

In the view of one academic research team — composed of researchers from Texas A&M university, Iowa State University, Pennsylvania State University and Virginia Tech University — the rise of OpenFOAM signals a major transformation in our approaches to CFD.

“There is a revolution going on, impacting and transforming how computational mechanics and the associated design and optimization are done: the emergence, availability, and large-scale use of OpenFOAM,” the team notes in a paper published in the journal Notices of the AMS. “It belongs to the contemporary open-source trend not unlike the roles played by the Linux operating system or the Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia.”[1]

OpenFOAM, which stands for Open Field Operation and Manipulation, is increasingly used by researchers and engineers working in both academic and industrial settings. A few examples:

  • Audi uses OpenFOAM for highly standardized CFD simulations in underhood air flow, climatization and external aerodynamics.[2]
  • Caterpillar uses OpenFOAM for a number of CFD marine applications, such as hull resistance and propeller cavitation.[3]
  • A research team affiliated with the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), Texas A&M University and Texas Advanced Computing Center uses OpenFOAM to better understand coolant and heat transfer in high-temperature-jet reactors.[4]

OpenFOAM at the University of Cambridge

Researchers at the University of Cambridge are leveraging OpenFOAM on high-performance computing clusters for multiple projects, including simulations for vehicle drag reduction and full-annular simulation of a gas turbine combustor.

The researchers like OpenFOAM for multiple reasons, according to Jeffrey Salmond, the university’s head of research software engineering. Among the advantages that he cites:

  • OpenFOAM is a comprehensive toolkit that contains the numerical methods and algorithms to cover simulations over a huge range of length scales, flow velocities and materials.
  • OpenFOAM is very flexible. It can be used with complex geometries (i.e., to simulate flow around a complex shape) and it incorporates lots of different physics, including large-eddy-type turbulence models, compressible flows and radiative transfer.
  • OpenFOAM is very modular. The structure of the package makes it relatively easy to write new features (e.g., a new numerical method or a new model for a better representation of a material) and to build new capabilities that leverage all the previous investments in the package.

Putting OpenFOAM to the test

Let’s dive down into a more technical view. For all its benefits, OpenFOAM is known to have challenging strong- and weak-scaling behaviour, according to a paper authored by Ravi Ojha from Tata Consultancy Services and Christoforos Hadjigeorgiou from the University of Cambridge. [5] To see if they could overcome this challenge, this research duo put OpenFOAM to the test on a hardware platform based on the Intel® Xeon Phi™ processor.

For this effort, Ojha and Hadjigeorgiou focused on investigating and optimizing OpenFOAM for scaling a realistic model of up to 16 processor nodes. The main model used for the work was a freely available Land Rover Evoque.

While the technical details are intriguing, we will keep the story at a higher level. With the support of professionals from Tata Consultancy Services and the Dell HPC Engineering Group, and with access to Dell internal compute facilities, the researchers demonstrated that, for large simulations, the Intel processor “could be a good candidate for scaling-up the relevant industry-scale workloads and reducing simulation time-to-solution.”

If you appreciate the how-to technical details, you can download the paper to get the full story. Or you can just keep these takeaways in mind: OpenFOAM has a tremendous amount of momentum among CFD users, and Intel and Dell EMC have the computational platforms that may help your organization take greater advantage of this groundbreaking software toolkit.

[1] Goong Chen, Qingang Xiong, Philip J. Morris, Eric G. Paterson, Alexey Sergeev, Yi-Ching Wang. “OpenFOAM for

Computational Fluid Dynamics,” Notices of the AMS. 2014;61(4):354–363.

[2] Richard Borris, “Customized developments for AUDI’s OpenFOAM processes,” abstract for the fourth OpenFOAM User Conference, 2016.

[3] T. Huuva, S. Törnros, “CFD and OpenFOAM at Caterpillar with a Main Focus on Marine Applications,” abstract for the fourth OpenFOAM User Conference, 2016.

[4] Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center news release, “PSC Wins a Record Five HPCwire Readers’, Editors’ Choice Awards,” November 14, 2017.

[5] Ravi Ojha, Christoforos Hadjigeorgiou. “OpenFOAM on Intel® XEON Phi™ Processors,” January 12, 2018.


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!

Is Data Science the Fourth Pillar of the Scientific Method?

April 18, 2019

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang revived a decade-old debate last month when he said that modern data science (AI plus HPC) has become the fourth pillar of the scientific method. While some disagree with the notion that statistic Read more…

By Alex Woodie

At ASF 2019: The Virtuous Circle of Big Data, AI and HPC

April 18, 2019

We've entered a new phase in IT -- in the world, really -- where the combination of big data, artificial intelligence, and high performance computing is pushing the bounds of what's possible in business and science, in w Read more…

By Alex Woodie with Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

Google Open Sources TensorFlow Version of MorphNet DL Tool

April 18, 2019

Designing optimum deep neural networks remains a non-trivial exercise. “Given the large search space of possible architectures, designing a network from scratch for your specific application can be prohibitively expens Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture: How to Power a Cloud

Learn how HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture provide critical infrastructure for leading Nordic HPC provider’s HPCFLOW cloud service.

powercloud_blog.jpgFor decades, HPE has been at the forefront of high-performance computing, and we’ve powered some of the fastest and most robust supercomputers in the world. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Bridging HPC and Cloud Native Development with Kubernetes

The HPC community has historically developed its own specialized software stack including schedulers, filesystems, developer tools, container technologies tuned for performance and large-scale on-premises deployments. Read more…

Interview with 2019 Person to Watch Michela Taufer

April 18, 2019

Today, as part of our ongoing HPCwire People to Watch focus series, we are highlighting our interview with 2019 Person to Watch Michela Taufer. Michela -- the General Chair of SC19 -- is an ACM Distinguished Scientist. Read more…

By HPCwire Editorial Team

At ASF 2019: The Virtuous Circle of Big Data, AI and HPC

April 18, 2019

We've entered a new phase in IT -- in the world, really -- where the combination of big data, artificial intelligence, and high performance computing is pushing Read more…

By Alex Woodie with Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

Intel Gold U-Series SKUs Reveal Single Socket Intentions

April 18, 2019

Intel plans to jump into the single socket market with a portion of its just announced Cascade Lake microprocessor line according to one media report. This isn Read more…

By John Russell

BSC Researchers Shrink Floating Point Formats to Accelerate Deep Neural Network Training

April 15, 2019

Sometimes calculating solutions as precisely as a computer can wastes more CPU resources than is necessary. A case in point is with deep learning. In early stag Read more…

By Ken Strandberg

Intel Extends FPGA Ecosystem with 10nm Agilex

April 11, 2019

The insatiable appetite for higher throughput and lower latency – particularly where edge analytics and AI, network functions, or for a range of datacenter ac Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia Doubles Down on Medical AI

April 9, 2019

Nvidia is collaborating with medical groups to push GPU-powered AI tools into clinical settings, including radiology and drug discovery. The GPU leader said Monday it will collaborate with the American College of Radiology (ACR) to provide clinicians with its Clara AI tool kit. The partnership would allow radiologists to leverage AI techniques for diagnostic imaging using their own clinical data. Read more…

By George Leopold

Digging into MLPerf Benchmark Suite to Inform AI Infrastructure Decisions

April 9, 2019

With machine learning and deep learning storming into the datacenter, the new challenge is optimizing infrastructure choices to support diverse ML and DL workfl Read more…

By John Russell

AI and Enterprise Datacenters Boost HPC Server Revenues Past Expectations – Hyperion

April 9, 2019

Building on the big year of 2017 and spurred in part by the convergence of AI and HPC, global revenue for high performance servers jumped 15.6 percent last year Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel Launches Cascade Lake Xeons with Up to 56 Cores

April 2, 2019

At Intel's Data-Centric Innovation Day in San Francisco (April 2), the company unveiled its second-generation Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake) family and debuted it Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ClusterVision in Bankruptcy, Fate Uncertain

February 13, 2019

ClusterVision, European HPC specialists that have built and installed over 20 Top500-ranked systems in their nearly 17-year history, appear to be in the midst o Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Reportedly in $6B Bid for Mellanox

January 30, 2019

The latest rumors and reports around an acquisition of Mellanox focus on Intel, which has reportedly offered a $6 billion bid for the high performance interconn Read more…

By Doug Black

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First US Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Looking for Light Reading? NSF-backed ‘Comic Books’ Tackle Quantum Computing

January 28, 2019

Still baffled by quantum computing? How about turning to comic books (graphic novels for the well-read among you) for some clarity and a little humor on QC. The Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Quantum Update: Q System One Launch, New Collaborators, and QC Center Plans

January 10, 2019

IBM made three significant quantum computing announcements at CES this week. One was introduction of IBM Q System One; it’s really the integration of IBM’s Read more…

By John Russell

Deep500: ETH Researchers Introduce New Deep Learning Benchmark for HPC

February 5, 2019

ETH researchers have developed a new deep learning benchmarking environment – Deep500 – they say is “the first distributed and reproducible benchmarking s Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

IBM Bets $2B Seeking 1000X AI Hardware Performance Boost

February 7, 2019

For now, AI systems are mostly machine learning-based and “narrow” – powerful as they are by today's standards, they're limited to performing a few, narro Read more…

By Doug Black

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

Arm Unveils Neoverse N1 Platform with up to 128-Cores

February 20, 2019

Following on its Neoverse roadmap announcement last October, Arm today revealed its next-gen Neoverse microarchitecture with compute and throughput-optimized si Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

France to Deploy AI-Focused Supercomputer: Jean Zay

January 22, 2019

HPE announced today that it won the contract to build a supercomputer that will drive France’s AI and HPC efforts. The computer will be part of GENCI, the Fre Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Cascade Lake Xeons with Up to 56 Cores

April 2, 2019

At Intel's Data-Centric Innovation Day in San Francisco (April 2), the company unveiled its second-generation Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake) family and debuted it Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft to Buy Mellanox?

December 20, 2018

Networking equipment powerhouse Mellanox could be an acquisition target by Microsoft, according to a published report in an Israeli financial publication. Microsoft has reportedly gone so far as to engage Goldman Sachs to handle negotiations with Mellanox. Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC Reflections and (Mostly Hopeful) Predictions

December 19, 2018

So much ‘spaghetti’ gets tossed on walls by the technology community (vendors and researchers) to see what sticks that it is often difficult to peer through Read more…

By John Russell

Oil and Gas Supercloud Clears Out Remaining Knights Landing Inventory: All 38,000 Wafers

March 13, 2019

The McCloud HPC service being built by Australia’s DownUnder GeoSolutions (DUG) outside Houston is set to become the largest oil and gas cloud in the world th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This