This Week in CFD

SGI Acquired OpenCFD

The biggest CFD news this week was the announcement that SGI had completed their acquisition of OpenCFD, a developer of the OpenFOAM open-source CFD code. In their announcement SGI’s CEO is quoted as saying the acquisition allows them to deliver “the market’s first fully integrated CFD solution.”  There are expectations that with SGI’s backing, OpenFOAM is set to significantly expand the CFD marketplace.  SGI’s chief marketing officer sees OpenFOAM as a complementary technology to commercial CFD codes, useful for cases where the customer needs to customer or extend the code’s capabilities.

SGI has created the non-profit OpenFOAM Foundation to facilitate distribution of and contributions to the GPL-licensed software.  Furthermore, SGI has adopted the freemium model for OpenFOAM in which the source code will be freely downloadable while simultaneously offering fee-based subscription, SGI hardware compatibility and support.

Commentary: This news appeared on multiple websites and forums but only one that I saw  (HPCwire) went beyond repeating SGI’s announcement.  There was less commentary in the social media world but at least one other person shared my reaction  to this news which was “Huh?”  While this harkens back to the old days (late 1980s and early 1990s) when CFD and SGI were virtually synonymous, the benefits of this arrangement aren’t clear to me.  OpenCFD was certainly doing a good business as the trademark holder and developer of OpenFOAM.  And when I looked at SGI’s website for their software products, it seems that OpenFOAM will be a standout in their portfolio as an application that isn’t tied to management or use of SGI hardware.  Is OpenFOAM truly on the verge of greatly expanding the CFD market and needed or wanted SGI’s backing to realize this goal?  Is this the leading edge of SGI’s expansion into fully-bundled, hardware and software for technical computing applications?  I’m a fan (perhaps nostalgically) of SGI which makes this exciting.  And OpenFOAM certainly has become a very popular CFD solver because of its open-sourceness (i.e. it’s free).  So it will be interesting to see the OpenFOAM Foundation take the product to the next level.

What do you think?  Let us know via the comments.

ICON FOAMpro Support Expands to Italy

ICON Technology and Process Consulting has partnered with Phitec Ingegneria to bring to Italy support for its ICON FOAMpro open-source CFD software.

Symscape August 2011 Newsletter

Symscape published the August 2011 edition of their newsletter with a brief preview of Caedium v3 and several CFD applications.

Video Intro to Meshless CFD Using XFlow

MSC.Software published a video introduction to XFlow and the benefits of meshless CFD and its fully-Langrangian, particle-based approach with LES.

Tecplot Blog’s About Standard File Formats for CFD

In Plot3D, CGNS and the Standardization of Data File Formats, Tecplot extolls the virtues of a CFD data standard that will allow engineers to choose the best code for their solutions rather than being trapped by proprietary formats that aren’t portable from one solver to the next.  This format is CGNS, the CFD General Notation System.

Events and Webinars


In Closing

For those who appreciate the beauty of fluid dynamics, check out the fluid sculptures of Shinishi Maruyama and some amazing photos of turbulent fluid mixing.

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2 Responses to This Week in CFD

  1. Cesar says:

    I guess that SGI wants to provide a complete solution: optimized hardware + optimized linux stack + optimized CFD code + could compute power. maybe, a FEA solver adquisition on SGI plans?? I think SGI wants to follow Apple approach (hardware + software, for macs, iphone and ipads) or as Oracle, which now provides the best option for databases (with the Sun adquisition) or now as google (adquiring motorola ) that wants to provide a better andriod experinece. Or as Altair with Hyperworks on Demand?

  2. John Chawner says:

    Thanks for your comment, Cesar. So you see this as the beginning of a strategy whereby SGI is going to acquire technical computing applications. That would be very interesting. Maybe there will be a FEA code in their future. If this is the strategy, I find it interesting they’d start with CFD just because it is used much less widely than FEA. On the other hand, one could say that’s exactly the opportunity. It’s also interesting that the CFD code they chose with this potential to greatly expand the overall CFD market is one that requires quite a bit of CFD and C++ expertise. Let’s just say the out-of-the-box experience isn’t stellar. Again, that may be exactly the opportunity they are addressing. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what SGI does with OpenFOAM.

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