This Week in CFD

OpenCFD Goes from SGI to ESI

The big news in the CFD world this week was the move of OpenCFD, makers of the OpenFOAM open-source CFD software, from computer manufacturer SGI to CAE software maker ESI.

SGI purchased OpenCFD back in August 2011 with the express goal of providing the market’s first fully-integrated hardware-software CFD solution. At the time, SGI formed the non-profit OpenFOAM foundation to ensure the software remained accessible and open to community contributions. The terms of the deal by which SGI acquired OpenCFD were not disclosed.

Now 13 months later, SGI has sold OpenCFD to ESI, again for undisclosed terms. According to the announcement on ESI’s website the acquisition is driven by their interest in OpenFOAM’s broad installed base and the potential to up-sell ESI’s other CAE products to those users (“…will facilitate the further migration to the high value creation of ESI’s “End-to-End Virtual Prototyping” solutions.”) ESI’s other CFD products include ACE+, CFD-FASTRAN, an PAM-FLOW. ESI also assumes an exclusive role in supporting the OpenFOAM Foundation.

Of course, no formal announcement about OpenFOAM would be complete without a prominent and explicit statement of trademark ownership. ESI continues this [almost fetish-like] tradition by stating in the first paragraph of their announcement, even before presenting rationale behind the deal, that ESI is now the owner of the OpenFOAM® trademark (bold emphasis from ESI’s announcement). [Although the OpenFOAM Foundation website doesn’t seem to have caught up with this change.]

[SGI’s acquisition of OpenCFD and stewardship of OpenFOAM left many scratching their heads in wonder. ESI seems to provide a more logical home and hopefully OpenFOAM will prosper under their stewardship.]

News in Brief

Flow deflected by a wall over heliostats as visualized in a NASA Ames water tunnel. Image from a Google report.

  • Sandia National Labs is seeking a aeronautical engineer.
  • CAE blogger Monica Schnitger weighs in on positive news in the CFD market, specifically recently IPO’d EXA’s performance and the OpenFOAM business (see above). EXA is forecasting 15% growth for FY 2013. Also, IPOs are expensive; some of EXA’s fees totaled $4 million.
  • Google is interested in solar generation of electricity and therefore interested in fields of heliostats and what happens to them in the wind. Pretty interesting stuff as it turns out as documented in this report (PDF) on Heliostat Flow Visualization Experiments. (Be sure to watch the videos.)
  • Here are a couple of interesting “how-to” posts about meshing from COMSOL and ANSYS.
  • Lloyds Register is now offering CFD service to reduce air pollution from ships.
  • More CFD applied to data center cooling.
  • Blue Origin is looking to hire a CFD engineer.
  • CEI has created a web page dedicated to the postprocessing of FLOW-3D results with EnSight.

When “Colorful Fluid Dynamics” Isn’t a Bad Thing

Pery Burge is an Artist in Residence at Exeter University, College of Engineering, Maths and Physics, Fluids Laboratory who investigates artistic flow visualization through collaboration with fluid dynamicists. One of her goals is manipulation of color and ink without direct intervention; hence the use of fluid transport.

You can see more at the artist’s website. (Originally seen on the F*** Yeah Fluid Dynamics blog.)

[Does Pointwise need an artist in residence to make cool pictures of meshes?]

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6 Responses to This Week in CFD

  1. Cesar says:

    It was very stange then SGI got OpenCFD, ESI seems a more proper home for OpenCFD. Regarding Google, I can not imagine the amout of CFD analyses and how they process that data for the termal management of their data centers. The core buisness of Google is to process huge amount of data or know everything.

  2. John Chawner says:


    Well, Google is also the company working on driver-less cars and Google goggles or whatever they call those glasses. So their use of CFD doesn’t surprise me. It’s good that they’re working with some of the best out there at NASA Ames.

    It really will be interesting to watch OpenFOAM continue to evolve with ESI’s backing. I hope their users respond well.

    • John, so far ESI had mainly positive reactions. As you can imagine, we’re right in the middle of giving everything its place within our organization. I am sure though that the community will hear more about ESI’s plans for the future soon.

  3. Cesar says:

    Also, google now is also a phone design shop (Motorola)… thermal management and antenna analyses is a big deal.

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