Altair Takes HyperWorks to the Cloud
Manufacturers rely on computer-aided engineering (CAE) software providers to solve increasingly complex problems to deliver more competitive products through a streamlined product life cycle. As the availability of high performance computing (HPC) innovations increases, the pressure is put on software companies to advance their tools to keep up with the potential offered by new and improved hardware.
Similarly, as companies look to move their operations to the cloud, CAE providers must be ready to jump on board to not only help their customers make the return on their investment, but to take advantage of the flexibility that the cloud enables.
These issues are at the heart of this week's release of Altair's HyperWorks 12.0, a CAE suite featuring sixteen updated products. While Altair emphasized additional features added to each product, usability across the enterprise and support for current HPC hardware played key roles in shaping this release.
Bringing Enterprise to the Cloud
Altair's enterprise goals began with cloud enablement, called HyperWorks on Demand (HWOD), which allows for the HyperWorks licenses to be hosted in public or private clouds. While this isn't new to HyperWorks 12.0, it is the starting point off of which additional cloud-enabled tools were designed.
Some primary changes to enhance usability came through changes to the platform's Collaboration Tools, which are responsible for organizing and managing simulation data. This was updated by allowing designers across a team to download and import CAD data directly from a product data management (PDM) system.
Altair has also invested a significant amount into its datacenter to enable its Hosted HyperWorks Units (HHWUs) along with the ability to access hardware cycles. HHWUs use Altair's unique licensing system, which requires only the licenses needed for the product with the highest “token value,” but not for any additional products. But unlike Altair's existing HyperWorks Units, the HHWUs offer licenses specifically for the cloud.
The third aspect of enabling enterprise in the cloud environment is HyperWorks remote visualization. “Because we're running these massive amounts of simulations, the biggest bottleneck in the industry has been being able to move this data back and forth from the server side,” said Ravi Kunju, head of strategy and marketing for Altair Enterprise Solutions. By adding remote visualization, Altair has been able to bypass this bottleneck altogether.
A major component of the HyperWorks suite that features HPC technology is HyperStudy, the data and design exploration tool for optimization. The 12.0 release brings to this product a redesigned GUI. Data exploration tools such as HyperStudy are dependent on high performance to manage the sheer volume of information.
“Altair is probably the only company out there that not only produces solvers for complex problems in addition to being able to model those problems, but it also provides an entire engine (HyperStudy) that has been completely enhanced for this release and allows a combination of not only doing one nominal simulation, but working on stochastic studies and designer experiments,” said Kunju.
The bottom line is that beyond providing solvers, HyperWorks is able to offer workload management infrastructure, collaboration tools to keep in sync with the PDM, design exploration tools and the ability to run these on large clusters.
But once you drill past the enterprise layer, Kunju pointed out that customer demand together with innovations in HPC have driven specific changes for many other solvers in the HyperWorks offering.
For example, the 12.0 release of AcuSolve offers noise level prediction, both by calculating fluid and structural noise sources. Simulating noise levels is a relatively compute-intensive task, meaning that hardware limitations have prevented this feature from appearing in previous versions.
However, customer demand for these types of predictions also played a key role in this feature's development. One notable example is the rail industry, whose trains must comply with specific noise regulations.
Other solvers are taking advantage of high performance hardware thanks to newly added support for GPUs. Detlef Schneider, senior vice president for solver products at Altair, explained that as models get bigger and bigger, the demand for support for new hardware capabilities becomes even greater, which led Altair to not only add GPU support, but to also invest heavily in scalability to keep up with the increasing number of cores in high performance systems.
Stepping beyond the pure solver side is a focus on multiphysics, which requires HPC facilities and user interfaces that make this available to each user within a company. Multiphysics typically involves coupling products to perform, say, thermal analysis together with structural analysis. However, some solvers are capable of running multiphysics without the assistance of another product.
But because of HyperWorks licensing structure, integrating information from multiple solvers is essentially the same as doing multiphysics with a single solver since the licensing is based on the number of CPUs or GPUs used in both cases. For Altair, the hope is that this (like its original and hosted licensing models) will increase usability across all releases.