Digital Technology enabled engineering has seen the rise and widespread adoption of multiple technologies — modelling & simulation, 3D visualisation, AR/VR walkthroughs, terrain mapping & geo visualisations, animation, digital twin and all kinds of engineering computation, collaborative workflows, project management and of course documentation across drawings, text, images, models etc.
Many of these specialised software needs heavy computational resources given the mathematical nature of the domain. Graphics and visualisation and interactive worlds need high floating-point accuracy, GPU power and fast memory. Teraflops of compute power are the normal benchmark in such cases for smooth, flawless rendering. Else, the output is jerky, slow, pixelated, and frustrating for the user.
When precision in computation to deep decimal points and faster processing of scientific datasets is required — e.g., space travel, stress analysis, 3d modelling, rendering, dynamic analysis, again high-performance compute (HPC) is a core requirement.
But for many engineering companies, research labs and even the biggest corporations, equipping their engineers and researchers with latest, state-of-the-art computational hardware and updated software is both expensive and time taking. Hardware must be ordered via slow procurement processes; software users must be rationed given high license costs and overall, the pace of innovation gets slowed down due to unavailability of HPC facilities.
How can engineering companies speed up their work and find ways to explore new and upcoming areas such as AI/ML, 3D Modelling and Simulations, Digital Twins, LLM technology, Data Science via open-source models, pilots for training on local data in such a scenario?
Cloud Based HPC Labs
One solution is to accelerate availability of high-performance computer resources for such high computational jobs and new exploration needs is a cloud based HPC platform that offers enterprise grade tools to create virtual HPC labs with multiple CPUs/GPUs at scale, clusters together with storage on a pay-as-you-go model / hourly-rate model.
Startups such as Nebula Cloud (www.nebulacloud.ai) offer a self-service platform or a full configurable hosting option to enable institutions to build cloud computing HPC labs with all the software needed for engineering design, simulation, visualisation, modelling, training, even LLMs using public cloud infrastructure. These labs come with user management, resource metering, ability to configure resources individually or on shared basis, license sharing provisions and collaboration workflows to have diverse multi-location resources engage on projects.
Using this capability, engineering majors in AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) Industries, Oil & gas, energy, nuclear, space and geospatial domain, etc., can create their own private cloud centre of excellence (CCOE), a centralized cloud infrastructure capacity that can be shared by all departments, divisions, personnel etc to speed up their research and innovation and launch products into market quicker. Or one can use the infrastructure hosted by Nebula Cloud to create a private account on their instance and work on your engineering projects.
Latest hardware and software with highest availability
Cloud based labs offer one key advantage over on-prem labs in addition to the speed of acquisition — the infrastructure is always latest, top-of-the-line and the software is always the most recent / updated version with all the security patches applied and the platform offers automation scripts to bring-up and shut-down the infrastructure on-demand in minutes.
Most on-prem acquisition and purchase follows a lengthy RFP, tender, negotiations, and contract award process. In the time this takes, the hardware, software and devices ordered are upgraded. By the time the equipment is delivered, installed, and configured, it is behind the cutting edge of technology.
While this may be acceptable for general purpose computing needs, for specialised high-performance computing, that needs raw horsepower, having the latest CPU/GPU, high speed memory and top of the line software are a great asset.
Significant Cost Savings
Not only does Cloud HPC Labs give some speed of execution, on-demand scalability of compute resources, its pay-as-you-go or hourly or shared license model leads to significant savings on CapEx that would have been incurred otherwise. Some early use-cases suggest savings upto 85% if the cloud resources are optimised well.
How does this work? Firstly, by aggregating the cloud resources, Nebula Cloud (www.nebulacloud.ai) can buy large volumes and get great pricing. This advantage is passed on to its customers. Thus, the price of cloud compute typically is lower from Nebula Cloud than from public cloud providers directly.
Secondly, Nebula Cloud has innovated multiple license-sharing models and hourly and pay-as-you-go metering for the infrastructure and software licensing usage. So, customers are billed only for the time they use the infrastructure and not when it is idling. This leads to further savings on software licenses. The Nebula Cloud platform costs are also substantially lower than global competitors. Overall, Nebula Cloud offers a powerful and cost-effective solution to cloud based high-performance compute needs.
Finally, Nebula Cloud provides a simple, self-service administration dashboard for all the management, provisioning, DevOps, Configurations etc saving on costly IT administrator personnel expenses.
As an example, one user, a large engineering consulting firm, uses a Nebula Cloud for collaboration, design and engineering services across time zones. Their software licenses are very costly for each user access. Instead of buying licenses for all users across their geographically spread-out team, they have a fixed number of licenses which engineers from each geo-location use at different times (time zone advantage at play) such that the team can work in a shared workspace with minimal overlap. It gives great productivity at significant cost savings.
If your organisation needs HPC and you would like to consider a cloud HPC lab infrastructure, do contact me at email@example.com. I will be happy to share more features and arrange a demo to show you the power of cloud HPC for heavy computing needs.