Five compelling reasons to run CFD simulations on the cloud

By shyam.patel.ext

In the world of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), the goal is to exploit the ever-advancing technology of computing power to solve engineering problems. But engineers today are facing tough challenges. On the one hand, innovation is moving at lightning speed, so there is a constant pressure to run more simulations cheaper to design better and faster. On the other hand, the products we are designing are highly complex. … and … as we all know, when the problem is complex, the solution is typically not fast.

An example of a mixing simulation of an A320 mixer using Simcenter STAR-CCM+

So what do we do? As humans and in particular engineers, we tend to take shortcuts to speed things up. When we use simulation on a time-critical project, the first question asked is: “How long until we get some results?”. The answer depends on the immediate availability of High-Performance Computing (HPC) resources. If the time-to-results is too long, the only option left is to reduce the fidelity of the simulation to accelerate throughput. Unfortunately, this approach can compromise the validity of your model and often undermines confidence in results and limits innovation.

There is also a paradigm shift in how simulation is used in this golden age of innovation. Single scenario CFD simulations are a thing of the past. To speed innovation, one needs to consider 100’s of trade-offs in design and do so early in development. Simulations are fast and cost-effective approach to achieve this, but with so many to run, a lack of access to HPC resources is often the biggest limiting factor.

Do not be alarmed, the good news is that compute power is growing exponentially and becoming more affordable. Furthermore, with its comprehensive physics, massively parallel performance, automated workflow and built-in design exploration, a CFD simulation tool like Simcenter STAR-CCM+ is built from the ground up to enable innovation. What is missing for many engineers is access to unlimited compute capacity, on demand, so that they can maximize their use of simulation to drive innovation at a scale that was previously not possible. If on-premise HPC resources don’t enable this, cloud computing is the answer.

Animation courtesy of Aerotherm – Simulation of a dry-start of a shell and tube heat exchanger.

TLG Aerospace, an aerospace engineering services company, is a great example of such cloud success. They have helped numerous customers receive FAA certification in the U.S. at a low cost and in a short time, something they have achieved with impressive efficiency.  TLG Aerospace credits Simcenter STAR-CCM+ combined with cloud computing for a significant reduction in certification costs. To read more, please click here.

“Simcenter STAR-CCM+ runs robustly, accurately and repeatedly with simple processes and best practices.”

Andrew McComas, Engineering Manager at TLG Aerospace
TLG Aerospace are able to compete with giants of industry by having access to vast cloud compute resources.

If I haven’t yet convinced you that the pace of technology is fast and that the cloud allows you to move with it, let me finish by summarizing my top five reasons to run on the cloud:

1. Skip the queue

The next time your boss asks you “How long will it take to get the results back?”, your answer will be “when you need it” because you have access to burst capacity to meet your deadline.

With cloud access, you can instantly increase compute capacity to meet simulation demand or possibly meet somewhere in the middle? A hybrid solution – supplement on-premise high-performance computing (HPC) with cloud burst capacity.

Don’t let the bottleneck of a limited capacity onsite HPC cost you valuable time – get results faster with cloud

2. Push the boundaries of your simulations

Run simulations without any compromise – Simcenter STAR-CCM+ is optimized for parallel efficiency and scales well. With unlimited capacity on demand, there is no need to simplify or limit your engineering ambitions.

Scaling up your project to get results faster than you expect is a great feeling due to the time pressures engineers constantly face. With virtually unlimited capacity at your disposable, you could run simulations on 1,000s of cores and turn things around fast.

This provides an opportunity to run high fidelity models up to billions of cells and gain detailed insight for complex problems as well as incorporate additional physics models and higher resolution timesteps.

An example to demonstrate the scalability of Simcenter STAR-CCM+ at 17,424 cores

3. Go from 1 to 100s of simulations

Continuing the theme of unlimited compute capacity on the cloud, scaling out your project and running in parallel is accessible. Coupled with the automated workflow and built-in design exploration in Simcenter STAR-CCM+ make design updates quick and automatic. So, go ahead and load up that design study and run 100’s of simulations concurrently to discover better designs, faster.

Demonstration of Simcenter STAR-CCM+ design space exploration capability

4. Pay only for what you use

The beauty of cloud computing is the flexibility. You pay for what you use which enables you to grow at your own pace – start off small or if you are comfortable, go big – that choice is yours.

There is the benefit of avoiding investing upfront on expensive hardware and infrastructure whereby you could shift IT expense from capital expenditure (CAPEX) to operational expenditure (OPEX) and only pay for the hardware you use. Essentially this enables flexibility and there would be no long-term commitment or investment such as an on-premise HPC which also requires maintenance.

Coupled with this, the Simcenter STAR-CCM+ Power-On-Demand (POD) licensing is flexible, designed to let you affordably take full advantage of cloud resources

With Simcenter STAR-CCM+ POD, the more cores you run on, the same price you pay

5. Remove the IT burden

The process is turn-key. You get access to the latest hardware and software technology without having to bother your IT department. Just fire it up remotely from the office or even from home to have that burst capacity at your fingertips.

With running on the cloud, you minimize the need to manage complex IT systems and with most providers meet regulatory compliance requirements such as ITAR and HIPAA.

Final thoughts

With any of these reasons, there is no better time than the present to remove some of the engineering obstacles and launch your CFD simulations on the cloud. Find out more

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at