Inside Extreme Scale Tech|Tuesday, June 2, 2015
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Fortissimo Hopes to Resonate with Manufacturers through HPC Cloud 

Although efforts are already being made in the United States to fill the need for high performance computing (HPC) in the manufacturing industry, a consortium of 45 partners have assembled in Europe with the hope of fortifying the international manufacturing marketplace through modeling and simulation tools. After an initial phase of closed testing led by the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC), the new HPC cloud project is opening its doors.

Called the Fortissimo project, EPCC’s set of experiments designed to demonstrate the potential benefits of HPC-based cloud infrastructure as a service is now reaching out to small-to-medium sized manufacturers (SMMs) in Europe with the hope of enabling advanced simulation experiments across the sector.

Already many large manufacturers benefits from digital tools like modeling and simulation, but EPCC hopes that by leading the three-year effort, SMMs will gain access to the tools that can launch them over hurdles both technological and financial.

“The goal of Fortissimo is to overcome this impasse through the provision of simulation services and tools running on a cloud infrastructure,” says EPCC. “This will make hardware, expertise, applications, visualisation and tools easily available and affordable on a pay-per-use basis. In doing this Fortissimo will create and demonstrate a viable and sustainable commercial ecosystem.”

In addition, Fortissimo will also allow independent software vendors and simulation service providers to port their applications to the HPC cloud to run the experiments.

Fortissimo will follow up EPCC’s existing work with Supercomputing Scotland, a two-year-old project aimed at delivering HPC to small enterprises. But according to Mark Parsons, EPCC executive director of Research & Commercialization, the PlanetHPC project convinced the organization that investment in modeling and simulation for the greater European manufacturing industry was the next step.

Now that the project is underway, Fortissimo will join the European Commission’s Framework 7 Factories of the Future initiative. Based on the project’s €22 million pricetag, (€16 of which comes from the European Commission,) Parsons describes Fortissimo as “a major project for EPCC.”

According to EPCC, the idea is to create a “one-stop shop” to deliver digital tools (along with the potential for profit) on a pay-per-use basis, which for small businesses helps to bypass costs associated with buying and maintaining HPC infrastructure. But to make the service more widely available EPCC says it must first use a small group of experiments to test the infrastructure and fine-tune what it should expect as far as end-user requirements are concerned.

EPCC has split the project into four components: HPC service providers, 20 initial modeling and simulation experiments, and two additional open calls for experiments. The first 20 experiments have already been carried out and can be reviewed at the Fortissimo website. Their respective fields ranged from the simulation of continuous casting and die casting, to environmental control and urban planning and even aerodynamic design and optimization.

This call will usher in the first wave of open experiments, which are expected to commence in July 2014 before being carried out for an 18-month period. In order to avoid redundancies, EPCC has said that it will give priority to proposed experiments that complement those that have already been completed through Fortissimo.

Submissions are due by January 2nd, 2014, while the second call for participation wil come in May of 2014. According to Parsons, EPCC expects for the project to expand to encompass 90 partners by the end of the three-year period.

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