13th July 2016
It’s fitting that an ideal solution to computational fluid dynamics (CFD) bottlenecks is named ‘OpenFOAM®’. Because discovering the benefits of faster and more efficient CFD simulations, running on IBM POWER8 servers, can lead to champagne-popping moments for design teams.
Last time I talked about the many industries that use CFD simulation to test new product designs, why simulations need to be fast, and the bottlenecks design teams face.
Software limits on developing CFD simulations – Every CFD project presents a unique challenge, requiring a unique solution. However, some CFD software prevents teams from customising tools and models to solve their design problem efficiently. Closed or limited CFD software can slow the design process and curb innovation.
Time to run CFD simulations – Many design teams run their CFD simulations on older hardware. Many are even using single workstations per designer, rather than server clusters that consolidate compute power. This means complex CFD simulations can literally take days to run. Slower simulations mean fewer designs can be tested. Fewer design cycles mean less innovation.
Time to market – CFD simulations are a major part of the process of taking a product from the design stage to market. Faster CFD therefore means faster time to market, which in turn can mean much greater profitability. In short, common CFD bottlenecks are caused by inadequate hardware and software that slow the process and limit innovation.
But what’s the alternative? For today’s organisations, cost-efficiency is just as important as time-efficiency. Investment in a high-performance computing (HPC) system and advanced CFD software needs to deliver real returns.
Faster, accessible CFD with OpenFOAM® on IBM POWER8
At OCF, we’ve found CFD solutions built on OpenFOAM® and IBM POWER8 systems make sense for a number of reasons.
First off, there’s the open-source nature of OpenFOAM®. OpenFOAM® isn’t just a highly-evolved CFD toolkit, which has been trusted by commercial and academic design teams since 2004. As open-source software, OpenFOAM® users also benefit from:
• The ability to customise and extend their CFD software so that it meets the team’s own needs and workflows
• A large library of existing CFD tools to solve a wide range of problems, created by the OpenFOAM® community made up of developers from many areas of engineering and science
OpenFOAM® is also free – it just needs to be configured and customised for the work the design team does. When those customisations also mean OpenFOAM® simulations are more efficient than with commercial CFD software, you can’t get better value. It’s high-end CFD, made accessible.
CFD performance gets another big boost when OpenFOAM® runs on IBM POWER8 servers. In recent benchmark tests, CFD problems were solved up to 3 times faster on POWER8 than on typical x86 servers. Not surprising when you consider that POWER8 has 3 times the memory bandwidth, twice the cache, and cutting-edge P8 processors that utilise simultaneous multi-threading.
Take more-innovative products to market, faster
So what does all this mean for design teams who need to overcome their CFD bottlenecks, compete on design innovation, and increase speed to value?
With the CFD performance provided by OpenFOAM® on POWER8, design teams can gain a real competitive advantage. They can solve CFD problems much faster, complete more design cycles in the same time period, and ultimately produce more innovative designs. Organisations can take better products to market, faster.
At the same time, the efficiency gains provided by OpenFOAM® and POWER8 can reduce operating expenses (OPEX). That’s because open-source software carries no license fees. And the scalable computing power of one POWER8 high-performance cluster can deliver more value than a whole room full of weaker systems with ‘equivalent’ combined power.
It’s cost and design innovation in one solution – and that’s worth celebrating. Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll look at a specific use case that illustrates the business benefits of a CFD solution built on OpenFOAM® and POWER8.