High Performance Computing Simulations...

June 18th, 2010 2:12 pm
Posted by Bobbie Steinmetz
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Easier and Faster Than Ever Before

Today, the field of computer simulation is on the threshold of a new era. Once reserved for national laboratories, large corporations and premier research universities, computer simulation is stepping out of the shadows and onto the main stage. Driving this migration is the need to reduce product development time and cost. Creating and testing a digital version of new products is proving to be less expensive and more complete than the costly physical prototyping method.

Product developers, from bicycles used in the Tour de France to power tools used to build your son that tree house, are employing ideas like digital prototyping, simulation based design or analysis driven design to create newer, more innovative products which impact the way we live.

Three forces are making it easier to employ simulations in the design process:
1) ISV’s are developing and deploying simple to use frameworks that make it easier to build, simulate and understand models

2) High Performance Computing is more affordable and accessible than ever before.

3) ISV’s and the technology industry are creating standards which are making it easier to deploy and maintain solutions

Independent Software Vendors like ANSYS, Altair, MSC Nastran and others are breaking the “expert” mold and making their products easier to use, extending the benefits of simulation based engineering to more users.

• Today, products like the ANSYS Workbench offer a straightforward easy to use framework that helps even the novice simulation engineer employ a rich suite of advanced engineering simulation technology. With its drag and drop framework, the ANSYS Workbench guides engineers through even some of the most complex multi-physics analyses. With bi-directional CAD connectivity, an automated project level update mechanism, pervasive parameter management and integrated optimization tools, the ANSYS Workbench delivers unprecedented productivity, enabling Simulation Driven Product Development.

• SimXpert, from MSC Software represents the next generation CAE application for modeling and analysis using FEA and multi-body dynamics (MBD). Integrated with MSC's advanced multidiscipline (MD) solver technologies, SimXpert provides users an efficient easy to use “end-to-end” solution that takes engineers from CAD to analysis report in a single easy-to-use application. SimXpert provides native access to CAD data and easy-to use tools to automate their simulation jobs and get results fast. Its unified user environment also enables teams to share data, models, results and best practices across time zones, geographic boundaries, and CAE disciplines, so they can approach problems more consistently and get reliable results faster.

• HyperWorks, from Altair, enables efficient product design, evaluation, optimization, and validation, yielding insightful information and performance metrics that are necessary for sound and timely product decision making. With HyperWorks, users will be able to test and validate more design ideas, alternative materials and manufacturing methods in less time than ever before. It can also help users reduce the number of expensive physical models needed and speed up the design process. With HyperWorks, automation of routine and best-practice engineering tasks also permits a greater amount of virtual testing to be done efficiently.

High performance computing is now more broadly available than ever before.

Once reserved for glass rooms, supercomputers can now be found in your deskside workstation, office, department or division and, of course, in national laboratories and corporate data centers. HPC solutions are now more affordable, easier to use and accessible than ever before.

HPC, from the early days, was all about making the intractable problem tractable. Seymour Cray, the grandfather of HPC, was once asked to comment on the drivers of performance in HPC. He used one word as a response, and then continued to define it. The word he used was balance. Balance, of course, was comprised of several components which included processing power, memory capacity, memory bandwidth and system I/O. The reason for his focus on balance was its impact on delivered application performance. If you focus on only one of the resources (e.g. compute acceleration), you might find that delivered application performance is only a small fraction of the claimed performance improvement afforded by compute acceleration.

The new microarchitecture named Nehalem (the foundation of the Intel® Xeon® processor 3500 and 5500 series) rewrites the book on processor scalability, performance, and energy efficiency.

The Intel® Xeon® processor 5500 series is now a foundation component in most HPC solutions. Behind the performance of this new processor are several Intel technologies which create the balance necessary for the performance you need to solve large scale problems faster.

• Intel® Turbo Boost Technology. This technology (in combination with Intel® Intelligent Power Technology described below), delivers performance on demand, allowing processors to operate above the rated frequency to speed specific workloads and drop back down to reduce power consumption during low utilization periods.

• Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology. This well-known Intel innovation provides more performance for applications designed for parallel, multi-threaded execution by reducing computational latency and making optimal use of every cycle. Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology benefits from this latest Intel microarchitecture’s larger caches and massive memory bandwidth, delivering greater throughput and responsiveness for multi-threaded applications.

• Intel® QuickPath Technology. This new, scalable, shared memory architecture integrates a memory controller into each microprocessor and connects processors and other components with a new high-speed interconnect. It speeds traffic between processors and I/O controllers for bandwidth-intensive applications, delivering up to 3.5 times the bandwidth for technical computing.

• Intel® Intelligent Power Technology. This feature enables policy-based control that allows processors to operate at optimal frequency and power. Operating systems can make this determination automatically, or administrators can designate which applications require high-frequency processing and which should be executed at lower frequencies to conserve power.

Simplifying Clusters – Helping More Users Realize The Performance of HPC
The Intel® Cluster Ready mark represents compatibility, reliability, and quality to the buyer of the cluster and the components in that cluster. It is a program and technology package that is intended to make it easier to acquire and use clusters built with Intel components.

Intel® Cluster Ready is a program and technology that helps simplify the deployment, usage and management of clustered computer systems by providing a standardized and replicable way to build clusters and run "off-the-shelf" high-performance applications.

• ICR enables software developers to validate just one time across many hardware platforms, speeding development and time-to-market readiness.

• Intel Cluster Ready includes a software registration process for compatible HPC applications and a hardware certification process that utilizes the Intel® Cluster Checker. This tool checks the cluster hardware and software components to ensure they correctly interoperate.

• Intel Cluster Checker also includes fault isolation, helping to improve early detection of cluster problems that can decrease productivity and increase support costs.

Intel Cluster Ready Program Benefits and Advantages

Application Portability
• First and foremost: Intel Cluster Ready ISV applications have been tested to run on clusters certified as Intel Cluster Ready. You will no longer have to worry “if” your applications will run on a given cluster; instead, with a cluster certified as Intel Cluster Ready, you can focus on the features and performance you need to get your job done.

The result is:
• Reduced effort to configure, acquire, and deploy clusters that run the ISV applications you rely on.
• Increased productivity

Common Basis for Clusters
• The Intel Cluster Ready Specification is the key to Intel Cluster Ready; it eliminates sources of variability that do not impact performance, usability, or utility, but can spell disaster when left unspecified. Beyond documentation, the Intel Cluster Checker increases fidelity with direct measurements of conformance to specification and system performance. When support is needed, the Intel Cluster Checker speeds problem diagnosis, allowing you to return to productive work as quickly as possible.

You will benefit from:
• Improved operating experience, from initial power-on through continuing production operations
• Reduced support effort and costs
• Component Interoperability
• Components certified as Intel Cluster Ready which enable you to confidently select from a variety of hardware and software components. This is especially valuable as your computing requirements change, allowing you to modify existing capabilities and add new capabilities as needed.

The result is:
• Greater flexibility in cluster configurations
• Lower total cost of ownership
• Increased application performance

The Many Shapes Of High Performance Cluster Computers

The Digital Workbench
Once thought of as a design terminal, today’s workstation provides users with a digital workbench that is powered by two Intel Xeon 5500 series processors that can host a suite of software applications engineers employ to create and test their ideas. The pliers, hammer and nails found on a workbench in a garage or basement have now been replaced with digital tools that promise to accelerate innovations via a process known as digital prototyping. Its enablers include application tools such as detailed CAD, CAE and PIM. The digital workbench exceeds the computational power of the Cray C90 series, once revered as the fastest HPC in the previous decade. Together, the software advances of ISV’s and the performance of a digital workbench provide access to a powerful innovation tool you can use to bring your ideas forward faster than ever before.

Deskside Personal Clusters
Equipped with significantly more performance improvement from previous generation single core processors, the Xeon processor based deskside personal clusters such as the Cray CX1 supercomputer can deliver industry-leading performance across a broad range of applications and standard benchmarks, all in a compact, deskside system that plugs into a standard wall outlet. The personal cluster is designed for individuals and departmental workgroups as simple to configure, deploy, administer and use.

Personal clusters, like the Cray CX1, take the HPC cluster out of the data center and place it next to your desk. Your simulations just got faster; your productivity just hit a new high.

Cluster Based Supercomputing
Often called Beowulf clusters, cluster based supercomputing represents a collection of independent nodes that are assembled to attack your most computationally intense business problems. They are typically based on an array of Intel Xeon based processors connected via high speed digital fabrics ranging from GigE to infiniband based networks to provide amazing computational resources. They afford you an opportunity to scale the same architecture from small, medium and large-sized HPC deployments across a broad range of vertical markets like aerospace, automotive and consumer electronics.

Racked clusters such as the digital workbench and deskside personal cluster, offer you the greatest flexibility and best balance between computational load and memory bandwidth, and do not require as large a degree of code optimization as some other architectures that are available.

Which HPC Model Is Best For You
As we stated at the beginning of this article ----- the field of computer simulation is on the threshold of a new era. The need to continually reduce product development time and cost is placing more pressure on industries in all verticals to adopt modern workflows that enable organizations to test a digital version of a new product before it is ever built.

If you are just starting to explore these new workflows or if you want to give your engineers an opportunity to move beyond design and allow them to digitally test their ideas against the defined design criteria, you may be better served with an array of digital workbenches rather than single socket workstations.

The digital workbench will allow you to move beyond CAD and allow you to not only design your next product, but also test it for form, fit, and function. The value of exploring multiple digital prototypes rather than just a single physical prototype will be very apparent.

If you have been doing simulation based design and you need to explore larger models, you may want to explore personal or departmental clusters like the CX1. These systems are designed for scalability and ease of use. They deliver remarkable performance in office friendly form factors, and are very capable at modeling complete car crashes in the same time frame used to modify your design.

The experts will tend towards large and extremely scalable Beowulf clusters. These systems provide access to immense resources that are capable of delivering the necessary processing power, memory capacity, memory bandwidth and system level i/o to solve the largest problems in as little time as possible. If you want to explore Intel technologies used in HPC solutions please visit our web site at http://www.intel.com/go/HPC

For more information about Intel Cluster Ready, go to www.intel.com/go/cluster

Authored by Wes Shimanek, Strategic Marketing Manager, Intel Corporation and Mike Haedrich, High Performance Computing Product Manager, Intel Corporation

This article by Intel Corporation was originally published 10-26-2009 on www.InventorConnections.com

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