ANSYS yesterday released details of its new GPU-based simulation software, Discovery Live, which, the company says, runs faster on a desktop computer than in the cloud. It is an application of HPC [high-performance computing] that uses parallel processing to simulation programs very quickly. Special computer hardware is not needed, just any reasonably recent NVIDIA graphics board that supports CUDA [compute unified device architecture], and most do. HPC on GPUs has long been a dream of the CAx industry, and now it appears to have become reality.
Following the demo they gave me (see XXXXXXXXXXX), I had some questions for the firm.
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Ralph Grabowski: How long did it take ANSYS to develop the Discovery Live software?
ANSYS: A few years. It's hard to answer this question, as this product brings together work done over many years from different parts of the organization. It was not developed from a blank slate, but instead standing on the work and shoulders of our development teams.
Grabowski: What are the kinds of simulation that Discovery Live can handle?
ANSYS: Discovery Live can simulate four types of physics:
- Structural/stress (see figure 1)
- Thermal conduction (see figure 2)
- Fluid flow internal and external, and combination (see figure 3)
- Modal or frequency response
More physics will be added in future releases.
Grabowski: Is there a limitation to the model size? For example, could it handle a skyscraper?
ANSYS: There is no limit on size or complexity, but there is a limit on fidelity depending on your graphics card. The larger your card [with more onboard RAM], the more detail it can resolve. You could simulate airflow around an entire city, for example.
Figure 2: Discovery Live performing real-time heat flow analysis as a heat sink is edited
Grabowski: How is meshing done automatically? I assume it ignores small parts automatically.
ANSYS: The simulation methodology is proprietary to ANSYS, and so we do not share details about how it works.
Grabowski: Does the software assume the material, and which material does it assume?
ANSYS: The software assigns a default material every time you start a simulation. Because material is usually one of the first items you want to specify, we make it direct and simple to change or define your own materials.
Grabowski: The graphics board named in the presentation is a GeForce, which is associated with computer games, and not the Quadro, which is traditionally associated with CAD. Why is this?
ANSYS: We leverage the power of GPUs through CUDA. CUDA allows us to use the horsepower of whichever type of card you have available.
Grabowski: AMD can support the CUDA programming language through its HIP API [heterogeneous-compute interface for portability]. Does Discovery Live run on AMD boards?
ANSYS: Discovery Live currently runs only on NVIDIA GPUs.
Figure 3: Fluid flow analysis (in this case, air) of one truck passing a second one
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Discovery Live is available now in beta and is due to ship in Q1 of 2018. More info from www.ansys.com/discovery