In our annual poll of executives in the Analysis & Simulation Software market, we asked our experts about growth in a struggling economy, how software is evolving, strides in high-performance computing, and the increasing use of simulation and analysis at all levels of the development process. Here’s more of what they had to say:

Josh Fredberg, Vice President of Marketing, ANSYS, Inc.  

One result of the economic downturn is increased corporate scrutiny of software expense. However, we have seen that, in most cases, firms that rely on innovation for survival have continued or increased their level of investment in engineering simulation software.

Robust design optimization is quite straightforward and appears as the next “Holy Grail” for simulation. Companies want to make their products or processes insensitive to any variation of parameters, be it material properties, dimensions, operating conditions, or even the environment in which the product operates. This can be achieved by digitally optimizing the solution, taking into account any possible probabilistic or accidental variation.

Dr. Deryl Snyder, Director, Aerospace & Defense Business Sector,


The number and complexity of simulations is increasing rapidly, necessitating efficient organization and accessibility to models and results. We integrate our analysis product into all the major CAD packages, resulting in embedded solutions that allow the analyses to be built and stored within the user’s existing PLM system.

A factor to consider is the rapidly expanding demographic of early-career engineers. These engineers are questioning the “always done this way” mentality, and most are familiar with commercial analysis tools embedded in their university curriculum. This generation of engineers has new ways of thinking, working, and communicating.

Svante Littmarck, President & CEO, COMSOL Inc.  

For our customers, the way multiphysics simulation is used continues to evolve (with economic conditions just one of many factors). Connecting our solution with other engineering tools is critical. This can range from spreadsheets, to mechanical CAD, to technical computing environments, to presentation and reporting tools.

What we’re seeing in terms of hardware is the development of standard solutions. As an industry, we’re getting there, but there are still a lot of changes taking place to the architecture of clusters. We remain committed to HPC, and we support our customers in this area by supporting the industry-leading HPC platforms, while using the best distributed computing software for our computations.

Bruce Klimpke, Technical Director, INTEGRATED Engineering Software 

Like with all new hardware developments, there is always a range of technical issues that can limit their use for different algorithms. Cluster computing has limitations to getting data in and out. A lot of basic software capabilities need to be available to take advantage of hardware improvements.

The major market trend will be the continued advancement in algorithms to make use of parallel computing for both CPUs and GPUs. The limit to optimization and testing new concepts is still mostly limited to the horsepower available.

Dr. Jon Friedman, Aerospace & Defense and Automotive Industry Marketing Manager, The MathWorks, Inc. 

In tough economic environments, aerospace companies look to increase the efficiency of their engineers. Modeling and simulation helps engineers explore design alternatives quickly without the need for as much prototype hardware, which often requires a significant amount of time to produce.

Analysis software needs to help engineers seamlessly take advantage of the availability of multi-core machines and cloud computing to quickly analyze large sets of data using multi-threaded algorithms. Consider the case where a systems engineer needs to determine the physical architecture of the next-generation aircraft and must perform tradeoff studies to determine the number and configuration of the engines, the number of passengers and routes that could be flown, the fuel economy, cost per seat mile, and aircraft emissions. This type of analysis can very easily be distributed over many different cores or to the cloud.

Boris Marovic, Product Marketing Manager Aerospace & Defense, Mentor Graphics Mechanical Analysis Division 

Of course, an economic crisis is influencing those who perform simulations but, in general, it is usually production that suffers more than development of the products. One would not want to fall behind the competition when the economy starts picking up again. Currently, we see an increase in the requests for simulation again.

With increasing hardware performance, simulation tasks will grow to more and more complex tasks, considering even more physics than they did previously; hence, the simulation results will grow. We will need to cope with this amount of data and be able to post-process such an amount in a fast way without it taking hours to visualize a simple surface plot showing the temperature or pressure.

David Weinberg, President & CEO, NEi Software  

We see the global demand for CAE growing, with FEA growing at a faster pace within the category. Industry reports from Research and Markets forecasts a 6.5% growth overall for CAE and a 16.6% growth for FEA over the next five years.

Large manufacturing countries, led by the BRIC countries, will continue to adopt CAE technology to meet the growing demand for localized product design through onshoring or nearshoring of both design and manufacturing. The use of CAE technology by original design manufacturers (ODMs) in these economies will also enable product differentiation to help to control price undercutting by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Dale Berry, Director of Technical Marketing, Dassault Systemes SIMULIA  

The value of simulation is the insight provided to designers about what works and what doesn’t work. This intellectual property should be and is being managed today by customers using PLM-like functionality within their data management software.

We see a continued emphasis on products and their interaction with humans, a trend that is driving development of realistic human simulation – more accurate simulation of the motion, response, and action of the human body and tissue to external interaction.

Mike Peery, President and CEO, Tecplot, Inc. 

The data for a single CFD case is growing as fast as the number of CFD cases and projects. If I run my CFD in the cloud, my very large amount of data is also out in the cloud. I need that data to extract the information and plots needed to analyze the results of each run as well as the variation across many runs. So, my post-processing needs to run on the cloud as well.

Another trend we anticipate to see in 2012 is the continued increase in hardware speed. The merging of the central processing unit (CPU) with the graphics processing unit (GPU) and general-purpose computation on graphics processing units (GPGPU) will begin to surface.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the November, 2011 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

Read more articles from this issue here.

Read more articles from the archives here.