FEA Specialists-take note! How to get the most out of your Abaqus tokens

Dassault is one of the world’s top enterprise software vendors by revenue, and the largest EDT (engineering design tool) supplier. Abaqus is one of their Finite Element Analysis (FEA) products which is widely used for simulations for computer-aided engineering, or CAE. Abaqus was acquired in 2005 by Dassault, and there are 2 license manager options: Dassault’s own product DSLS or Flexera’s Flexnet which is designed to handle token licenses. The token system works quite well for Abaqus, because of the nature of FEA software, which is often run on multiple processors with no or only occasional intervention by the user who scheduled the job. The number of tokens required for a job is dependent on:-

  • the number of simultaneous users
  • the number of parallel processors (CPUs or GPU) that are needed
  • at least 1 token for the CAE pre-processor, depending on number of users

So, while using multiple parallel processors will cut down the time to run the simulation to a fraction of the time it would run with a single CPU, there is an extra cost incurred for each processor used. Below is an illustration of token costing for various Abaqus products:-

Keeping track of token usage can be quite a complex task, and is even more complex when you are running FEA software on multiple CPUs. It can also be a challenge weighing up time taken to process the simulation against the cost of tokens. This is why GPUs have become so popular for intensive computations like FEA.  Tests by Abaqus working in tandem with Nvidia have found that Abaqus Standard runs 3.7 times faster when using a GPU.

Source: https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/data-center/gpu-accelerated-applications/abaqus/

Not only is processing time faster, it is cheaper. The token calculation when using one GPU in addition to the CPUs is the same as for the CPUs without a GPU. In other words, looking at the graph above, both methods will use 12 tokens, but results are produced in 1/4 of the time. The amount of acceleration improves for very complex calculations and very high numbers of degrees of freedom (DOF), and may not make a marked difference for smaller computations with a smaller number of DOFs.

This token pricing model applies irrespective of the number of CPUs utilized, as the graph below, illustrates.

Source: NVIDIA GPUs Accelerate Dassault Systèmes SIMULIA’s Abaqus/Standard FEA Solver  

https://www.nvidia.com/object/tesla-abaqus-accelerations.html

The improvement in processing time is shown below as this graph from a white paper by Nvidia illustrates, based on a study at Rolls Royce.

Source: White Paper – Accelerating Abaqus Computations Using NVIDIA GPUs

Possibly an even more important benefit is the energy savings from using the energy-efficient GPUs. The graph below, taken from the same white paper, shows energy savings when a GPU is added to the computation.

Source: White Paper – Accelerating Abaqus Computations Using NVIDIA GPUs

It clearly makes good sense to start incorporating GPUs into any complex calculations, such as FEA, where the software products cater for it.

There is further good news for Simulia customers, because Dassault has come up with a new token licensing scheme for three additional products, namely Isight, Tosca and FE Safe, which have been bundled together in an extended licensing scheme.

Good News for OpenLM Customers

Customers who use Abaqus have been able to apply OpenLM in managing their Abaqus licenses and tokens for some time. We are pleased to announce that we have recently enhanced our product in answer to a request from a leading research company who use OpenLM to manage their licenses. They asked us to provide license management for the Nvidia GPUs; Nvidia provides a license manager, but for ease of use, the company wanted just one tool to manage the Nvidia licenses as well as their computational software. It must be noted that the Nvidia license manager does not report on usage, an essential requirement for control and optimization. We have been able to develop this solution and it is now available for any of our customers who apply GPUs in their IT environment. We recognise that GPUs are used for a variety of applications, from crypto mining to VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) installations. Even more conventional engineering tools, such as AutoCAD, are being boosted by the use of GPUs. Now their licenses can be managed through OpenLM as well.

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The Engineering Software Alphabet Soup

 

Engineering software has grown in leaps and bounds since the first engineering products were developed. Where initially the focus was on computer-aided design, or CAD, now it has extended to provide digitized support to all areas of engineering. There are thousands of engineering software tools available today, many of which fall into categories that have a three-letter acronym to describe them. Managing compliance of all these products with vendor agreements has become an important discipline for the IT business unit, and the license management team in many engineering companies have come to rely on OpenLM in helping them manage the “alphabet soup”. We have compiled a list of some of these acronyms, and the products supported by OpenLM that fall under these categories.

BIM – Building Information Modelling

Building Information Modelling software has evolved from the original concept of 2D and 3D CAD. BIM provides the architect and engineer with 3D models of proposed and existing built structures. It can be used both for individual buildings and for whole ecosystems, like smart cities. The power of BIM is its ability to identify potential construction errors and weaknesses. Some of the BIM tools that OpenLM supports are Autodesk’s Revit and Navisworks, Tekla BIMSight, Dassault Systemes BIM, and BricsCAD BIM.

CAD – Computer-aided design

Computer-aided design heralded the revolution in engineering life, providing a software alternative to the drawing board and pens. Now available for 3D as well as 2D drawing, every engineering and architectural company has at least one CAD tool in their portfolio. While OpenLM is known for its ability to manage licenses for AutoDesk’s AutoCAD, it also supports BricsCAD, PTC Creo, Dassault’s Catia and Ansys, among many others.

CAE – Computer Aided Engineering

Computer-aided engineering performs analytics and simulations on engineering designs, such as computational flow dynamics (CFD), finite element analysis (FEA) and multibody dynamics (MDB) among other disciplines. Typically, such software is composed of a pre-processor, solver and a post-processor, and receives the output of design executed using a CAD or similar design application.

MSC Software were one of the earliest companies offering software for various types of CAE, such as Adams Car. Other CAE software includes Mathworks Simulink, Matlab, and Wolfram’s Mathematica, all of which are in OpenLM’s vendor list.

CAM – Computer-Aided Manufacturing

Computer-aided manufacturing usually describes an automated manufacturing process and is not engineering software per se, but does receive output from CAD and CAE application as part of the value chain and often requires the supervision or intervention of experienced engineers. Many vendors of engineering software offer CAM solutions, including Dassault (Catia), Siemens (NX CAM), PTC (Creo), AutoDesk (Powermill, FeatureCAM and Fusion 360) and HCL Technologies (Camworks). All of these vendor products are supported by OpenLM..

CFD – Computational Flow Dynamics

Computational Flow Dynamics or CFD is used to analyse the flows of gases and liquids via simulation and is one of the CAE analytic tools. Typically, like most CAE tools, CFD analysis is very complex and is run using multiple CPUs and/or GPUs.

Many major vendors offer CFD software, notably Ansys, which has products such as Fluent, CFD and CFX. Other well-known products include Autodesk’s Inventor and CFD, MSC’s Dytran and Solidworks.

ECAD – Electronic Computer Aided Design

Electronic Computer-Aided Design (ECAD) is a special branch of software that is dedicated to the design and production of Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs). The “CAD” in the name is a bit misleading, CAD is focused on design, while the best ECAD products cover the whole board manufacture process from design through to assembly and even parts explosion and bill of materials (BOM) generation.

One of the leaders in this field is Cadence Software with its Allegro software, which is focused on the design aspect, and some other products that are devoted to MCAD, the manufacture aspect, and IDX that allows electronic and mechanical engineers to collaborate on the board design and manufacture. OpenLM also supports Mentor Graphics’Xpedition PCB engineering suite.

EDA – Engineering Design Automation

Another acronym that is synonymous with EDT.

EDT – Engineering Design Tools

EDT is a global term for specialized engineering software, and includes any software that the engineer could find in his digital “toolbox”.

FEA and FEM – Finite Element Analysis and Method

Finite element analysis (FEA) is one of the CAE family of software. FEA software performs simulations and is usually run in batch mode. There is a wide variety of FEA software available, such as Simulia’s Abaqus, Nastran, originally from NASA and now available from MSC and Siemens, Livermore’s LS-DYNA and Ansys. There are many FEA packages that originated in universities and through research. These generally do not come with a license manager, but OpenLM has a feature that allows software like this to be monitored.

GIS – Geographical Information System

Geographic information systems (GIS) have been around for a long time and ArcGIS was the software that OpenLM is founded on. The founders were working at a company that used the ESRI product extensively, and the need for an independent license manager was identified. They started up a company that initially offered a solution for ArcGIS license management, then AutoCAD, followed by software from many other vendors. Today over 900 customers rely on OpenLM to manage their licenses, in industries ranging from Aerospace to scientific research.  

GPU – Graphics Processing Unit

What was originally a circuit board designed to support computer games has become a vital cog in modern computing. The parallel processing capabilities of graphics cards cuts down processing time and costs on intensive software processing required by CAE applications. Nvidia is the leading producer in the GPU field and they have collaborated with some of the leading software vendors, such as Dassault to optimise processing using the Nvidia boards. Recently OpenLM was requested to include Nvidia license management as part of the supported vendor products and this has been done. This simplifies work in advanced simulations and calculations, where cost of processing is an important consideration.

MDB – Multibody Dynamics

Multibody dynamics (MDB) is a CAE software tool. The discipline examines the behaviour of mechanical moving parts and the influences of external forces on these parts. Because the effects of these forces are unpredictable and cause friction and instability, this software can predict weaknesses and other potential flaws as well as mean time to failure. Some major software vendors in this field are Comsol, who have a Multibody Dynamics Module, and MSC Software with its Adams, Adams Car and SimXpert products.

PLM – Product Lifecycle Management

Early engineering software was siloed into different areas of expertise, and did not integrate readily with other applications used in the overall production of a part or product. This has been changed with the introduction of product lifecycle management (PLM) which covers the whole value chain of product development from inception to market. It also goes beyond this in that it supports maintenance during the product’s life up to the time when it needs to be disposed of as it has reached the end of its life. Some of the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software also lays claim to PLM management, but the main players in the PLM space are, Siemens, Dassault and Autodesk.

The Wide World of Engineering Software

These are not the only acronyms in the alphabet soup, and there are also many products that do not have a handy acronym to classify them that are used in various industries and engineering disciplines. Building roads and bridges, communicating via radio and satellite, designing transmission networks and the many facets of the oil and gas industry, all have their own specialized software tools. OpenLM covers many of these products too. If you are looking for effective license management over your valuable software, why not try our product and see if it works for you. You can download an evaluation copy and try it for 30 days at https://www.openlm.com/download/.

 

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Good News for High-Performance Computer Users

The development of a virtual GPU (vGPU) by Nvidia has enabled many organizations to recalibrate the productivity of their installation to a high-performance model, using GPUs instead of CPUs for processes and applications that require large computational power. It has also added another license manager to the toolbox of license applications the company has to administer. Following a customer request, OpenLM has developed a solution for managing GPU licenses. 

GPU license management is essential for compliance especially in VDI environments

Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) are becoming very popular as an alternative for CPU processing, especially for the heavy computational work required in engineering and science. Running simulations using graphics processing can give a processing improvement; a user of Ansys Fluent can accelerate his computation to be at least twice as fast up to 3.7 times faster, depending on the class of GPU used. The leading supplier of GPUs is Nvidia, which has 49% of the market; what was originally designed as an aid to gaming and desktop graphics is now an indispensable aid to engineering applications, such as CAE (computer-aided engineering). There is even a trend towards using GPUs for standard office productivity, like Windows 10, which requires 30% to 50% more graphics processing power, depending on whether one is working at operational or applications level.

Typical situations where high-performance computing is needed are:

  • architects, designers and engineers who use CAD, CAE and CAM software
  • “Miners” of cryptocurrency who utilize extensive processing power to solve their blockchain algorithms
  • researchers who use AI and machine learning for new discoveries in healthcare, automotive and robotic design and other disciplines
  • and even regular users of widely used software like Windows, Office and Adobe, which require increased  graphics capability with each new release

What many CIOs are also doing is moving to a VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) architecture. Instead of upgrading or replacing desktops and laptops on a regular basis to increase the processing capability, upgrades are made to the VDI, which is where the processing occurs; the user just accesses the application they want using their own device and the VDI executes the processing and holds the data. This adds a new level of security, if a user’s phone, tablet or laptop is stolen, the thief cannot access anything of value to the company. Vital company information is centralised and secure and cannot be left on a bus or in a taxi by accident. Theft of the device does not give the thief any vital information, because it is all kept on premises. Using a VDI also obviously saves on the capex budget, because less hardware has to be bought. However, the use of GPUs adds another set of software licenses that have to be managed.

There are two types of VDI setup, which have much in common with conventional software licenses, persistent and non-persistent VDIs:

  • A persistent VDI is a “desktop” in the cloud service that is linked to a specific user, similar to a named user software license.
  • A non-persistent VDI is a “floating” desktop”. The user accesses the desktop, applies it to the task at hand and returns it to the “pool” making it available to the next resource. This is similar to a concurrent user software license, which is not tied to any particular user.

While managing licenses for a “named” user is straightforward, as it works on a one-to-one relationship between user and VDI, the non-persistent VDI is more complex, because any user can access the VDI and release it for use by another user. Another licensing consideration relates to complex simulations and calculations where multiple parallel processors are used, such as Simulia’s Abaqus. In order to ensure license compliance, Nvidia provides a license manager application, but one of our customers requested a better solution.

The customer, a seasoned user of OpenLM software, had been using the product to monitor the specialized software that it uses to perform simulations and complex mathematical calculations. They conduct research on products and innovations for a wide range of industries and are reliant on GPUs and high-performance computing to execute their work.  The benefit of using OpenLM for them was that they could bypass all the different license managers from the various vendors and use a single product for managing access to licenses and optimizing performance and productivity. They wanted the convenience of managing their Nvidia licenses without having to use another license manager tool, as well as ensuring that they were compliant with their license agreement at all times.

The OpenLM development team studied what was required and came up with the desired solution within a few weeks. As our customers are mainly in engineering, science and tech, most of them either already use GPUs or are in the process of making the switch.  We are happy to announce that we can now assist them in monitoring their GPU usage and compliance alongside their license administration of their spatial, mathematical and engineering software. While the Nvidia licenses are relatively cheap when compared to a product like Dassault’s Catia or even AutoCAD, companies that perform extensive calculations, or are involved in AI can have thousands of GPU licenses, which puts manual management out of the question. Even a customer that has only a small investment in GPUs can benefit, because they are using a common license manager for all the software products that they need to administer.

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