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Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Is Timeliness a Key to the Democratization of Simulation?

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Rubix Cube Having just arrived in Cleveland, Ohio for CAASE18 (Conference on Advancing Analysis & Simulation in Engineering), I was reminded of the recent COFES meeting where I was struck by the similar propositions of two people I greatly respect.

Ken Welch of SIMSOLID talked about how rapid simulation response enables better designs.

Andreas Vlahinos proposed that instant simulation feedback (as in ANSYS Discovery Live) is a critical enabler.

Really? For years we have talked about how simulation should be faster, and easier to use. And, we have focused on the accuracy of simulations.

Is that really the right question? Suppose we said that simulation should be instantaneous, so long as we understand the limitations? Good enough, just as long as it’s quick?

Turn that Rubik’s cube over. What if we demand response time first, and wait for the computers to bring us better accuracy? Rather than demand accuracy, and wait for the computers to bring us better response time?

Moore’s Law is a remarkable thing. If you do the calculation, we can now compute in one second what would have taken the Apollo program engineers 1,400 years to do. In five years, your computers will be 10 times faster, and cheaper. In ten years they will be 100 times faster, and much cheaper. (In 1980, a Cray-1 cost $40 million. Today, a Raspberry Pi, about 20 times the capability of that Cray-1, costs about $30. It also does not require a multi-million dollar refrigerator in your basement.)

As my good friend, Don Tappan at Intel, said, computing has become infinitely fast and vanishingly inexpensive. And, will continue to become more so.

I now believe that the fastest response time on the devices we have is more important than waiting for better results tomorrow. That is a real challenge for solution providers: Give me the best result now, as fast as you can. That will make simulation much more useful to many more people.

Let me know what you think and, if you are at CAASE tell me in person.



Keith Meintjes

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