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Uncle Sam’s HPC CFD Post-processing Supercomputer specifies EnSight

What does the U.S. Government do with its massive supercomputers?  One use is to plan visionary ways of protecting the planet from extraterrestrial threats.  No not UFOs, meteors.  To realistically consider such mind-bogglingly ambitious concepts, the scientists and engineers turn to computer simulations backed by years of careful comparisons with tests.  They perform these simulations using technology known as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) on massive supercomputers a technology field known as High Performance Computing (HPC).  Then visualization tools such as EnSight perform post-processing after the simulation is complete to reduce the data to manageable size and visualize the data and animate it so that complex data becomes understandable to the engineers and scientists.  We call this HPC CFD Post-processing, and its EnSight’s forte.

Watch the story in a video by Los Alamos.

HPC CFD post-processing by EnSight to visualize asteroid destruction simulation.


When the U.S. Government’s Department of Energy (DoE)  builds its next two supercomputers, the Trinity and NERSC-8,  it specified the software for post-processing and visualization it wants to be able to use.  In that specification the only commercial software for post-processing was CEI’s EnSight.   See section 4.1.1 of the document for yourself.

These computers are to be delivered in 2015, probably not taking advantage of free shipping from Amazon Prime accounts, or iTunes gift cards.

No other agency in the world has built more supercomputers for science and engineering.  So at CEI, (we might be biased) we think it is a very strong endorsement for EnSight over other commercial CFD post-processing and visualization software.

The labs that will be using these computers are:


More nuggets from the introduction of the draft requirements document.

“The intention is to choose a single vendor to deliver two systems of similar technology. The technical specifications in this document describe joint requirements everywhere except for the tables in Section 3 that describe requirements specific to the Trinity and NERSC-8 systems.”  ”The Offeror must respond with a configuration and price for both systems.”   Kind of like the Joint Strike Fighter procurement where the government didn’t want to buy different aircraft for different branches of the military.

“In the 2015 timeframe, the current ASC systems will be nearing the end of their useful lifetime.” “The Trinity system, to be sited at Los Alamos, NM, is projected to provide a large portion of the ATS resources for the NNSA ASC tri-lab simulation community: Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), during the 2016-2020 timeframe.”

“The system needs to provide a significant upgrade in computational capabilities, with a target increase between 10-30 times the sustained performance over the NERSC-6 Hopper system.”

“In addition to increasing the computational capability available to DOE computational scientists, the system also needs to be a platform that will begin to transition DOE scientific applications to more energy-efficient, many-core architectures. This need is closely aligned with the US Department of Energy’s 2011 strategic plan, which states an imperative to continue to advance the frontiers of energy-efficient computing and supercomputing to enable greater computational capacity with lower energy needs. Energy-efficient computing is a cornerstone technology of what has been called exascale computing and represents the only way of continuing NERSC’s historic performance growth in response to science needs.”



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