While industry continues to weather a slowly improving economy, there is optimism among leading vendors in the analysis and simulation software market. In our annual poll of executives in this area, we found that while there is still a long way to go, growth is occurring, and the products are evolving. Other positive trends are strides in high-performance computing, and the increasing use of simulation and analysis at all levels of the development process.

For software to effectively leverage today’s hardware, efficient execution on multiple cores is essential, according to Fredberg. “Graphical processing units (GPUs) are an exciting new technology for HPC, as they provide hundreds of processing cores that are capable of computational throughput far in excess of that achieved on today’s multicore CPUs. But it’s essential that software developers keep up with the latest compiler and chipset revisions,” added Fredberg.

Cloud computing also offers the opportunity for larger and more complex analyses to be performed without taking desktop resources. “Cloud computing will enable more customers to leverage HPC as this capability is provided on a cloud-based platform that relieves the customer of the burden of a hardware investment in such a dedicated cluster,” predicted Berry.

alt“Simulation software needs to provide a seamless transition from the desk to the cloud to distribute the computational load of running a large number of simulations during design, or executing a particular analysis routine multiple times,” said Friedman.

While there are numerous benefits to cloud computing in terms of the complexity and size of analyses that can be performed, there are also obvious drawbacks that must be addressed; namely, cost and security. “Many users do not have large computing requirements all the time, but only during brief, but critical, periods. This is well suited for cloud computing, but only if the analysis and simulation tools are licensed cost effectively for burst usage,” stated Snyder.

Security remains an issue among organizations looking to distribute and store data on the cloud. According to Peery, “Our customers tell us that security is still the number-one reason preventing them from putting their data out in the cloud. High-speed interconnects among the nodes in a cloud cluster aren’t currently as fast as the interconnects in a private cluster.” Peery added that if a user runs CFD in the cloud, a large amount of data is also out in the cloud, so the post-processing needs to run on the cloud as well.

Trends for 2012

altMore widespread and mainstream use of simulation is a top trend our executives see for 2012, including the platforms it will run on, and the resulting increase in revenue. “We see a further increase in simulation on the desktop of the design engineers, and a need to fix product flaws early in the design cycle and run many design variations within days, rather than weeks,” explained Marovic. “The time that engineers have to design a product is decreasing, and time to market is the driver.”

Snyder agrees that 2012 will see the move to more CAE usage, and that the primary driver will be economic pressure. “The industry has recognized the reduced development cost and increased product performance that can be achieved by utilizing more analysis and simulation implemented earlier in the development cycle. This move continues to gain support, and in many larger companies where inertia is greater, this will be the year when significant changes will begin to be seen,” Snyder predicted.

altThose changes are expected to result in increased revenue in the simulation and analysis software market. “We see the global demand for CAE growing, with FEA growing at a faster pace within the category,” according to David Weinberg, President and CEO of NEi Software. “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,” he explained. “Large manufacturing countries will continue to adopt CAE technology to meet the growing demand for localized product design through onshoring or near-shoring of both design and manufacturing.”

Some see the proliferation of the tablet device as a harbinger of things to come in simulation. Klimpke sees the initial stages of performing some tasks on tablets emerging where portability is an issue. Peery agrees that a trend for 2012 and beyond is the “virtualization of the desktop application (or the iPad app), having the ability to simply connect back to the application running remotely on the server with high-speed access to the simulation data.”

With hardware advances, more widespread use of simulation, and a positive revenue outlook, the future looks bright, according to Littmarck. “The business of simulation software is still young in its development. We’ve passed the infant stage, but the growth is strong and the potential is even stronger,” he stated. “We’ll continue to see attributes of a healthy, competitive market.”

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