Tech Explainer: How does design simulation work? Part 2

Cutting-edge technology powers the virtual design process.

  • October 24, 2023 | Author: KJ Jacoby
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The market for simulation software is hot, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.2%, according to Markets and Markets. The research firm predicts that the global market for simulation software, worth an estimated $18.1 billion this year, will rise to $33.5 billion by 2027.

No surprise, then, that tech titans AMD and Supermicro would design an advanced hardware platform to meet the demands of this burgeoning software market.

AMD and Supermicro have teamed up with Ansys Inc., a U.S.-based designer of engineering simulation software. One result of this three-way collaboration is the Supermicro SuperBlade.

Shanthi Adloori, senior director of product management at Supermicro, calls the SuperBlade “one of the fastest simulation-in-a-box solutions.”

Adloori adds: “With a high core count, large memory capacity and faster memory bandwidth, you can reduce the time it takes to complete a simulation .”

One very super blade

Adloori isn’t overstating the case.

Supermicro’s SuperBlade can house up to 20 hot-swappable nodes in its 8U chassis. Each of those blades can be equipped with AMD EPYC CPUs and AMD Instinct GPUs. In fact, SuperBlade is the only platform of its kind designed to support both GPU and non-GPU nodes in the same enclosure.

Supermicro SuperBlade’s other tech specs may be less glamorous, but they’re no less impressive. When it comes to memory, each blade can address a maximum of either 8TB or 16TB of DDR5-4800 memory.

Each node can also house 2 NVMe/SAS/SATA drives and as many as eight 3000W Titanium Level power supplies.

Because networking is an essential element of enterprise-grade design simulation, SuperBlade includes redundant 25Gb/10Gb/1Gb Ethernet switches and up to 200Gbps/100Gbps InfiniBand networking for HPC applications.

For smaller operations, the Supermicro SuperBlade is also available in smaller configurations, including  6U and 4U. These versions pack fewer nodes, which ultimately means they’re able to bring less power to bear. But, hey, not every design team makes passenger jets for a living.

It’s all about the silicon

If Supermicro’s SuperBlade is the tractor-trailer of design simulation technology, then AMD CPUs and GPUs are the engines under the hood.

The differing designs of these chips lend themselves to specific core competencies. CPUs can focus tremendous power on a few tasks at a time. Sure, they can multitask. But there’s a limit to how many simultaneous operations they can address.

AMD bills its EPYC 7003 Series CPUs as the world’s highest-performing server processors for technical computing. The addition of AMD 3D V-Cache technology delivers an expanded L3 cache to help accelerate simulations.

GPUs, on the other hand, are required when running simulations where certain tasks require simultaneous operations to be performed. The AMD Instinct MI250X Accelerator contains 220 compute units with 14,080 stream processors.

Instead of throwing a ton of processing power at a small number of operations, the AMD Instinct can address thousands of less resource-intensive operations simultaneously. It’s that capability that makes GPUs ideal for HPC and AI-enabled operations, an increasingly essential element of modern design simulation.

The future of design simulation

The development of advanced hardware like SuperBlade and the AMD CPUs and GPUs that power it will continue to progress as more organizations adopt design simulation as their go-to product development platform.

That progression will continue to manifest in global companies like Boeing and Volkswagen. But it will also find its way into small startups and single users.

Also, as the required hardware becomes more accessible, simulation software should become more efficient.

This confluence of market trends could empower millions of independent designers with the ability to perform complex design, testing and validation functions.

The result could be nothing short of a design revolution.

Part 1 of this two-part Tech Explainer explores the many ways design simulation is used to create new products, from tiny heart valves to massive passenger aircraft. Read Part 1 now.

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