High performance computing drives innovation for manufacturers

Note: This is the second blog in the recent HPC vertical blog series. Visit this blog to read more about HPC in healthcare, and visit Dell4Enterprise again in the coming weeks for more on HPC in oil and gas.

Automotive plant using industrial robotics technology. Photo from Wikipedia.

Since the Industrial Revolution, manufacturers have worked tirelessly to develop innovative, functional, high-quality products, while eliminating any sliver of inefficiency or unnecessary cost in their processes. Although it’s critical for developing competitive products with exceptional fitness-for-use, the product development process has been scrutinized in recent years for speed, cost and efficiency. As increased competition in most industries has driven the need for more sophisticated products and accelerated development cycles, high-performance computing (HPC) has proven to be critical for virtual product development and testing. With virtual product development and testing powered by HPC, manufacturers are able to develop the best-in-class products without wasted time and resources.

With any mass-produced product, design optimization and testing is a critical and time-consuming factor to eliminating defects and ensuring optimal performance. Virtual product development and testing is playing a major role in speeding time-to-market. More powerful computer resources are necessary to facilitate these sophisticated virtual simulations, which are not only faster, but also more accurate and ultimately less expensive than manual alternatives.

HPC is clearly a crucial technology for manufacturers wanting to stay competitive, but there are significant barriers to adoption for many companies. According to the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS), out of more than 300,000 manufacturers in the US, 95 percent are categorized as small or medium sized (less than 500 employees) and 94 percent have not fully adopted HPC. Traditionally, these smaller companies have often used multi-core workstations, which are powerful tools for simulation and analysis. However, they are limited by total CPU core count and memory capacity limiting the size and complexity of their simulations. To increase the resolution and complexity of their simulations, while the workstations would be used for model design, pre- and post-processing and visualization, the computationally intensive simulation would be a shared HPC cluster. However, many small manufacturers and engineering shops have not pursued an HPC solution, considering them to be too complex, not having staff familiar with HPC technology, or simply thinking that it’s too expensive.

The Dell HPC team has worked hard to provide a market solution that addresses these issues and I’m excited by what we’ve accomplished. The Dell HPC System for Manufacturing is designed to optimize digital manufacturing workloads, and is pre-tested with ISV software applications including SIMULIA®, Abaqus®, ANSYS® Mechanical™ & Fluent®, CD-adapco® STAR-CCM+® and LSTC LS-DYNA®.  It offers a single, simple system that includes compute, storage and networking that doesn’t need a formal, raised floor, data center. This easy to configure system – which includes full installation services and support – handles simulations while the workstation can continue to be used for any processing or visualization in a manner that is comfortable and familiar to engineers. With this system, organizations can run larger problems that are beyond the scope of a single workstation, and interact with jobs on multiple workstations.

The goal of our HPC System for Manufacturing is to make HPC accessible and seamless for manufacturers of all sizes, allowing them to develop more competitive products with faster time to market, higher quality, and lower cost. Dell also provides domain-specific, pre-sales and architectural expertise to help organizations determine the right configuration based on their specific manufacturing requirements. Dell’s single source of support for consistent, predictable and reliable IT services helps eliminate deployment and production bottlenecks.

Just like manufacturing processes in the Industrial Age, volume and repeatability for HPC is critical to efficiency and mass adoption. We’re continuing our work to make HPC systems easier to manage and exploit, while providing more thorough and accurate ROI calculations that justify expenditures for cost conscious manufacturers. By opening up HPC resources to more and more manufacturers, Dell is helping to enable an unprecedented surge in innovation. We’re proud to play a part in this movement, and I can’t wait to see what amazing products our customers develop over the next few years!

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About the Author: Ed Turkel

I've joined Dell's growing HPC team in the role of HPC Strategist, helping to develop Dell's evolving HPC Strategy, as Dell EMC increases its investments in this strategic and growing market.