HPC for business

Author: Mark Sawyer
Posted: 18 Aug 2014 | 13:10

The Fortissimo project, which is coordinated here at EPCC, gives companies a low-risk opportunity to try out HPC. By combining it with cloud computing, they can gain the benefits without buying and running their own systems. Here are three examples of HPC in action under Fortissimo.

IES: Urban Planning

We've been working with Glasgow-based software and consultancy company Integrated Environmental Systems (IES) to enable its SunCast simulation software (which measures the effect of solar energy on buildings to improve energy efficiency) to run on HPC systems. We are now working together in Fortissimo.

IES is developing a planning tool for cities that incorporates dynamic simulation of all aspects of a city including buildings, transport and utility infrastructures. Because of the depth of information associated with multiple buildings, this tool will rely heavily on HPC simulation. The cloud-based model of HPC is ideal for this application, as end-users typically do not have HPC systems. The pay-per-use service under development in Fortissmo removes the capital costs of an HPC system and the need for the specialist skills to operate it. For IES, this will open up a whole new market of urban consultants and planners, giving them tools that currently do not exist to support decisions about how to create low carbon cities.

Koenigsegg: Hypercar design

Swedish super-car company Koenigsegg is working with Fortissimo to help it improve the aerodynamics of its performance cars. 

Computational Fluid Dynamics is a well-established HPC tool, used by many companies in the aerospace and automotive industries. However because of the high costs of HPC systems, it has been difficult for smaller companies to use CFD to its full potential. As an SME, Koenigsegg can benefit from cloud-based HPC because it can get the massive computational power it needs on demand, and does not need to worry about an expensive computer being idle at other times. The pay-per-user model is highly attractive. 

Koenigsegg is using the OpenFOAM CFD application running on systems operated by Italian HPC provider and Fortissimo partner CINECA. Ultimately the aim is to offer this type of simulation service through the Fortissimo marketplace to end-users with similar needs to Koenigsegg.

NUMTECH CERC: Air quality

French environmental consultancy NUMTECH and British software experts CERC (Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants) are taking part in an experiment to use cloud-based HPC services to investigate air quality at city scale. European air quality regulations require many different scenarios to be evaluated. The massive computing capacity required to simulate these scenarios is typically beyond that of the end-users.   

NUMTECH and CERC are working with Fortissimo partners Bull and GENCI to use CERC’s air quality modelling software in a cloud-based HPC environment. The result will be cost-effective access to the service, and new business opportunities for the companies.

Image shows a simulation produced by IES's Suncast software.


Mark Sawyer, EPCC

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