But first, you have to get simulation software to run optimally on the low-power reduce-instruction set computer platform …

At a time when the automotive and aerospace industries are racing to bring next-generation aircraft and electric vehicles to market, product development engineers know how critical it is to innovate safe, economical and functional designs.

Yet, due to the complex nature of such products, current limitations in compute power require engineers to simplify a design substantially to be able to run digital simulations of its functionality. This time-consuming process not only slows down visualization and functional accuracy, but also stifles innovation. Furthermore, supercomputers are costly to own or rent.

Recently, however, a breakthrough was achieved in enabling better product simulations with less simplification in the prototype model, by leveraging a power-efficient supercomputing platform based on reduce-instruction set computer processors.

CFD simulation using a complex cross-sectional model

Revolutionizing product simulations

If traditional high-end computing power restricts the quality and cost of product simulations, why not use a supercomputer that is cost-effective and make it more accessible?

That is what a firm named Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence did when it partnered with Fujitsu, manufacturer of currently the world’s fastest supercomputer (Fugaku).

By tuning its computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations software to run on the ARM-based low power supercomputer, Hexagon has been able to make such computing power accessible to its simulation software, thereby empowering engineers to use complex models that were previously not usable on traditional high power computers.

According to Hexagon’s President (Design & Engineering), Roger Assaker: “Simulation holds the key to innovations in aerospace and e-mobility. Advances such as the low-power Fugaku supercomputing architecture are one of the ways we can tap into (prototypes) without costing the Earth.”

The reason for the previously high cost is that CFD simulations require significant computational power and resources. Consequently, engineers have had to spend many hours simplifying a real product design just so that it can be simulated to make sure it will perform as needed. In some instances, 90% of an engineer’s time can be dedicated to this manual process, and engineers are increasingly being challenged to ‘scale-up’ simulations to manage more elements. As a result, the cost and time to achieve these simulations is prohibitive and engineers can only simulate an approximation of a product.

Now, with Hexagon’s solution called Cradle CFD, manufacturers can leverage Fujitsu’s commercially available Fugaku technology to achieve complex simulations quickly and easily.

This hardware and software combination allows the performance of next-generation aircraft and electric vehicle functions to be explored in greater detail and with many more iterations using the power of simulation. Moreover, manufacturers will be able to analyze all the complexities of reality with less than half the energy use and at a fraction of the cost of traditional simulation methods.

List of benefits

The use of CFD computational software with low cost supercomputing power offers the following advantages:

  • Engineers will now be able to simulate complex designs without having to simplify them, thereby not only saving time but also accessing significantly more detailed models.
  • This will in turn enable engineers to explore multiple design options and do so quickly, using simulations more frequently to refine and test designs and explore new concepts that cannot be explored with current physical testing or simulation solutions.
  • With this increased simulation speed and detail with cost-effectiveness as a side benefit, engineers can also use this type of simulation routinely. The Fugaku architecture uses approximately a third of the energy of the traditional computers, reducing cost and improving environmental sustainability.
  • By saving time on manual processes like meshing, manufacturers can run more simulations to improve understanding of how the aerodynamics of a new model impacts energy efficiency and range, be able to iterate more between design and engineering; and ultimately achieve the optimal design.
  • Thermal management is also particularly important in electric vehicles, as managing the heat of a vehicle optimizes its performance, safety and longevity—all of which are major challenges for the EV market. Understanding these issues through higher resolution simulations enables engineers to achieve optimal designs and bring models with attractive design and range to market faster.

With this integrated solution a typical family car was simulated in its entirety, which is only possible with enhanced computational power. Such a car comprises 70 million elements and yet the system could allow simulation until steady state using the RANS equation over 1,000 cycles.

Simulating complex turbulence

In the aerospace industry, turbulence vortices can be so small that current simulation methods are unable to simulate them properly. With the Hexagon/Fujitsu solution, engineers are able to toy with higher-resolution simulations to gain a better understanding of the impact of turbulence on the structural safety of the design.

This is important for the development of the next-generation aircraft (including supersonic and hypersonic types), for which engineers need to understand the behavior of shockwaves associated with high speed flight.

Tomohiro Irie, Director of R&D, Cradle CFD, has this to say: “By using the efficient computing power of Fugaku with our simulation tools, we will (facilitate engineers) to simulate phenomena that simply weren’t feasible before. Today we have simulated 192,000 elements but this is only the beginning. I expect that these technical developments will contribute to making the power of Fugaku more accessible for general use, bringing huge freedom and improved insights to engineering teams solving tomorrow’s problems today.”

Fujitsu Limited’s Executive Director Masahide Fujisaki noted: “In the future, we look forward to working together with vendors to optimize commercial applications and contribute to the industrial use of Fugaku, while simultaneously offering the supercomputer series to manufacturers and other companies so that the results of this work can be widely used in industry.”