This Week in CFD

High Performance Computing & Cloud

  • NAFEMS asks that you participate in their survey on use of HPC in engineering simulation. The survey’s results will be revealed at the 2015 NAFEMS World Congress.
  • Jetstream will be a new NSF cloud computing resource with the aid of a $6.6 million grant.
  • NSF also spent over $9 million on a new supercomputer called Bridges.
  • Web-based CAD is just too funky to be useful in an efficient way to end-users.” Agree? Disagree? [Let’s just say that my personal experience indicates that porting an existing application to the cloud so it can be run via a web browser is WAY more difficult that porting to a traditional platform and many customer expectations are WAY too unrealistic.]


  • Mentor Graphics released the latest version of FloEFD with improvements in meshing, visualization, and physical modeling.
  • Aerosoft released GASP 5.2 including mesh adaption and other features.
  • MSC Software released the 2014 versions of Nastran and Patran.
A team led by NASA Langley engineers  received an HPC Innovation Excellence Award for their use of CFD to study aeroacoustics. Image from NASA. Click image for article.

A team led by NASA Langley engineers received an HPC Innovation Excellence Award for their use of CFD to study aeroacoustics. Image from NASA. Click image for article.

What’s in a Word?

  • Here’s an article worth reading: All the truth about CAE and FEA Simulation Software in which the meanings of the phrase “easy to use” and the words accurate, fast, and affordable are decoded. My comments are:
    • All the superlatives we in the CAE software business use basically mean “better than we did before.” I stole this idea from Fred Brooks’ classic book on software development The Mythical Man-Month in which he wrote that the desire for automation really just means to make things work better than they work today. However, we and many other folks in the industry do try to quantify our superlatives by documenting accuracy and speed.
    • Affordability is a red-herring. What matters is value; what benefits do you accrue for the amount you pay?
    • A software program unto itself does not a product make. A product consists of the program plus all the other stuff that makes it actually useful, from installation, maintenance, upgrades, documentation, support, etc.
  • Speaking of “ease of use,” Symscape delves into the issue of GUIs for CFD software.


  • Based on a few reader questions let me clarify what’s going on with the recently announced 1st Analysis, Simulation, and Systems Engineering Software Summit (ASSESS) coming up in early January. Attendance is by invitation only and all invitations have been sent and accepted. The rest of us can’t get in. [Channeling my inner Maverick, “Negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full.”] You can see the list of attendees on the conference website and it’s a “who’s who” of CAE. The rest of us will have to wait for the post-event press conference on 13 January and fortunately I’m on the list for that. I really look forward to learning more about this and again applaud the organizers, Cyon Research and intrinSIM.
  • Beta CAE announced the 6th Beta CAE International Conference to be held 10-12 June 2015 in Thessaloniki, Greece. The call for papers is open with a due date of 27 February.
  • The 15th FLOW-3D European Users Conference will be held on 02-03 June 2015 in Nice, France. Abstracts are due by 17 April.
  • Kitware has shared a video of their SC14 experience.


Spray dryer simulation. Image from Dairy

Spray dryer simulation. Image from Dairy

  • Simulating spray dryers with CFD.
  • Scalable fully implicit finite element flow solver with application to high-fidelity flow control simulations on a realistic wing design
  • CFD for bicycles
  • If you haven’t yet had your fill of Disney’s Frozen, watch this brief video detailing the science of animating snow.
  • Here’s a video explaining the aerodynamics of the Porsche 911 Turbo. [Yawn. Not a car guy. I mean, all this “aerodynamics” and it can’t even get off the ground.]
  • [To prove that I’m not biased against automotive CFD] here’s a brief article about Nissan’s V8 supercars that mentions CFD.
  • CFD modeling of debris flow runout
  • Heterogeneous mass transfer in fluidized beds by CFD

Experimental Fluids


Wrap Yourself in Luxurious Tets

With the holiday gift-giving season upon us, what better gift is there for the mesh generator on your list than this luxurious, cashmere, tetrahedral blanket. Imagine being swaddled in this surface mesh while viewing your most recent CFD solution.

It is said to be inspired by origami but I know a mesh when I see one. The Bloom Blanket sells for $300.

The tet-inspired cashmere Bloom Blanket. Image from See link above.

The tet-inspired cashmere Bloom Blanket. Image from See link above.


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3 Responses to This Week in CFD

  1. John, thanks for your news selection, useful as always. To your comment on Web-based CAD about “porting an existing application to the cloud” I’d like to mention that currently things are changing dramatically. After many engineers tried cloud over the past year and complained about the usually cumbersome access many cloud providers have worked hard to simplify access and use. For example, many CAE software packages are now already sitting in the cloud and waiting for you, no more porting. And with the advent of the new Linux containers the access and use got fully automated, and you can handle it the exact same way you do on your desktop system. See e.g. the video here:

    • John Chawner says:

      Thanks for the video, Wolfgang. As with all things cloud, there are many interpretations of “porting to the cloud.” A true native port (e.g. HTML5, WebGL) is non-trivial. And in our two attempts with different vendors, simply streaming the app from the cloud to the desktop doesn’t work all that well, so much so that it’s not worth making customers suffer through it.

      • Thanks, John, you are absolutely right, it fully depends on the kind of app you want to use in the cloud, and on the kind of usage. I am not someone who wants to ‘solve world hunger’, so I tend to move forward in little steps, meaning: looking for ‘sweet-spot’ applications and usage models. I can see three classes of such engineering and scientific apps which are well suited for the cloud:
        – ISV codes from ISVs who are offering flexible cloud-friendly licensing models (like CD-adapco)
        – Open Source software which is widely used and easy to move to the cloud (like OpenFOAM and Gromacs)
        – In-house developed codes which can be easily packaged into Linux containers and moved to any cloud (containers base on Linux LXC or Docker)
        For example, some of these codes are already packaged for the cloud and offered here:, and a compendium of engineering cloud case studies is here: .

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