Combining HPC with the Infinite Flexibility of the Cloud

A large part of what APD does brings optimization into the product development process which usually requires large computing resources using Altair’s world-class solvers such as OptiStruct®, RADIOSS®, AcuSolve®, and FEKO. HyperWorks’ design exploration tool HyperStudy® is used to facilitate large Design of Experiments (DOE) on multi-disciplinary problems. The DOEs facilitate customers to make better decisions to optimize the performance, reliability and robustness of their systems. In a typical use case, a customer might require APD to perform a DOE to improve their company designs, because of the limitations imposed by their finite computing infrastructure so prioritization is often required for the number and or size of the jobs that can be run.

Altair ProductDesign recently opted to use the Microsoft Azure platform temporarily for a specific customer that required large scale computing resources for a portion of the project. Microsoft Azure combines the performance of a world-class supercomputer with the scalability of the cloud. It allows users to scale from one to thousands of virtual machine instances. From small dev-test projects to global product launches, Azure is engineered to handle any workload. “Microsoft Azure togther with partners such as Altair, who are active members of the partner ecosystem, are focused on bringing innovative HPC capabilities to market for every engineer and scientist. In order to solve complex engineering simulation problems DOE/Optimization studies have been proven to be very effective but they are still not the norm because of huge compute power required. Azure HPC capabilities backed by InfiniBand RDMA technology in the cloud are ready to help solve that challenge” says Tejas Karmarkar, Principal Program Manager Azure Compute.

Access to the Azure environment via PBS Works greatly enhanced the team’s internal computing infrastructure. Jobs that might have been taxing previously could now flow uninterrupted and in tandem with other large (multiple) jobs simultaneously, greatly increasing flexibility as well as productivity. Combining local HPC resources with the Azure HPC instances did not however, pose any challenges normally associated with such changes in infrastructure. Most importantly, the team did not need to invest valuable time and resources in acquiring new expertise.

The synthesis of cloud technology with the internal infrastructure proved to be a considerable complimentary solution as it allowed expandability, enabling either more numerous and/or larger simulations as required. “Altair ProductDesign was able to use cloud computing through the Microsoft Azure platform to significantly expand compute resources for a short time for our customer’s project without any interruption in the workflow or without having to learn new skills. It was just like our internal system.” Adds Tony Norton, Executive Vice-President, Altair ProductDesign. “Microsoft and Altair have worked closely to develop comprehensive integration with PBS WORKS, HyperStudy, other Altair products and Azure” adds Tejas.

In an increasingly competitive industry, as products grow more advanced so has the simulation design process and its technology thus demanding more from HPC systems. Offerings that simplify resources, such as AltairPD and their internal HPC infrastructure coupled with the Microsoft Azure platform, bring together highly efficient analysis capabilities to the production process. “This is a great example of affordable, project-based resources,” says Robert Walsh, Vice-President Business Development, Altair Engineering. “Without the on-demand capabilities of the cloud, projects of this scale may not be possible. You turn on, turn off resources, based on your actual workload.”

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