Altair Taps Xeon Phi for Computer-Aided Engineering Share your comment!


Intel’s Xeon Phi massively parallel coprocessor can now be managed by the industry’s leading high-performance computing (HPC) workload manager, job scheduler and computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools.

Altair’s PBS Pro manages scheduling, balancing workloads and tracking the performance of each core on Intel’s massively parallel Xeon Phi coprocessor.

Altair has also crafted a new toolkit to simplify configuring the Xeon Phi coprocessor to management by PBS Pro.

And finally, the company recently unveiled a new port of its premiere CAE structural analysis program, RadioSS, for the massively parallel Xeon Phi coprocessor.

(Altair’s PBS Pro, Configuration Toolkit and RadioSS CAE can be seen live next week running in Intel’s booth at Supercomputer 2012 (Nov. 10-16, Salt Lake City, Utah).)

“Altair’s support for Intel’s Xeon Phi–including our simplified configuration toolkit–ensures that our users can run the compute-intensive portions of their work on the most cutting-edge, high-performance architecture available today,” explains Bill Nitzberg, chief technology officer at Altair.

Altair: Two decades of diverse HPC support

For 20 years Altair Engineering, Inc. (Troy, Mich.) has been supplying software and engineering services for HPC applications both commercial and scientific in fields as diverse as automotive, aerospace, government, defense, and consumer products.

Today Altair provides more than 3,000 companies worldwide with simulation and decision-making technologies that optimize the analysis, management and visualization of business and engineering information. Its virtual prototyping capabilities–including virtual crash tests–allow engineers to “what-if” innovative new designs for automobiles at BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ferrari, Fiat, Ford, GM, Harley Davidson, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mazda, Nissan, Porsche, Saab, Toyota and Volkswagen. 

Altair’s RadioSS solver, a part of its HyperWorks suite, allows automobile makers to perform virtual crash tests for faster, safer prototyping of new car designs. SOURCE: Altair

In aerospace, virtual prototypes allow new aircraft designed to be debugged before building scale models at Airbus, Bell Helicopter, Boeing, Cessna, GE Aircraft, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon and RollsRoyce.

Consumer products makers are also using Altair’s virtual prototyping capabilities for new gadgets from Bose, Canon, Fisher Price, Kohler, Motorola, Nokia, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Steelcase and Whirlpool. Altair’s customer also extends to life sciences, oil and gas exploration, financial services, energy development as well as at virtually all U.S. government and defense contractors.

Altair’s flagship extended to Xeon Phi

Altair’s software suites allow enterprises to maximize return-on-investment (ROI) by pooling and optimizing on-site and off-site computing resources. PBS Pro manages all resources no matter where or on-what model they are based, including globally distributed grid-, cloud- or cluster-based supercomputer configurations. Altair also allows combining of both in-house and pay-for-use resources using PBS Pro tools, which expand and contract computing capabilities to meet the needs of each specific application. 

Altair’s PBS Pro, its flagship software suite, was already optimized for Xeon processors. It now can be extended with Xeon Phi coprocessors on premises or remotely accessed. PBS stands for “portable batch system.” It is designed to allow scripts to schedule batches of programs to run simultaneously on every parallel processor core in a system. All management tasks for the analysis and visualization of business and engineering information for both Xeon processors and Xeon Phi coprocessors are handled by PBS Pro.

Altair’s virtual prototyping suite, HyperWorks, of which RadioSS is a integral part, is a CAE simulation platform that uses “solvers” to provide the realism required to ensure products will behave as designers intended.

HyperWorks’ RadioSS solver lets simulations make use of hybrid parallelization techniques to provide structural analysis and sensitivity calculations without the need to build physical prototypes. Using implicitly iterative solutions, RadioSS harnesses any array of HPC resources to create ultra-large engineering models with millions of degrees of freedom. 

Extension provides new performance to parallel programming 

“RadioSS and PBS Pro are both widely used, and have historically taken advantage of parallel computing features of Intel Xeon processors to deliver outstanding capabilities to design engineers and cluster managers,” says Joe Curley, director of marketing for Technical Computing Group at Intel. “Extending this support to new Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors will provide a new level of performance for highly parallel computing.”

PBS Pro’s scheduler can be configured to assign jobs to Xeon Phi cores, then logs the coprocessor’s utilization as jobs are run. The new configuration toolkit automates the steps required to add Xeon Phi resources to the PBS Pro configuration files. And the successful port of the CAE capabilities of RadioSS allows both implicit and explicit time integration solutions to include Xeon Phi coprocessors to accelerate execution of simulations for durability, safety and manufacturability of products.

“Porting RadioSS was easy, since we were able to use tools we were already familiar with from our Xeon development work,” reports Eric Lequiniou, director of HPC at Altair. “This is the first time we have been able to port the entire RadioSS explicit code on a coprocessor or accelerator.”

Altair will describe the ease of its porting experience for RadioSS to the Xeon Phi on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 1:05 PM at the Intel booth #2601 at Supercomputer 2012 (Nov. 10-16, Salt Lake City, Utah). Both Altair PBS Pro and RadioSS will be running live in the Intel booth.

Posted on November 7, 2012 by R. Colin Johnson, Geeknet Contributing Editor