Running COMSOL Multiphysics® with Cloud Computing
Pär Persson Mattsson February 20, 2015
We have previously written about HPC with the COMSOL Multiphysics® software, clusters, and hybrid computing. But not all of us have a cluster available in the office (or the hardware to build a Beowulf cluster). So what possibilities do we have if we really need that extra compute power that a cluster can give us? One solution is to utilize cloud computing, a service that provides compute power on a temporary basis, to give our computations and productivity a boost.
Three Cases Where You Need More Computer Power
Imagine that you are modeling an electronic device and are interested in its temperature distribution during operation. After testing a few setups, you discover that the heat flux boundary condition you applied is not a well-suited approximation for your model. You realize that a fluid flow simulation is required in order to achieve more accurate results. The only problem is that you have used almost all of your laptop’s 4 GB of RAM to model the heat transfer simulation, based on the heat flux approximation. You require two-way coupling, and including the simulation of fluid flow will only add even more degrees of freedom to your computation — and require even more RAM.
What now? You need more computer power.
Now imagine, instead, that you are analyzing the mechanics of a structural component with a lot of small details for your customer. In order to optimize the design, you are required to run the analysis for a large number of different design dimensions. As you have only the one processor locally and each run will take quite a bit of time, you realize that you will not reach your customer’s deadline.
The solution? You would need to run these simulations in parallel on multiple processors.
Finally, let’s look at an application independent of the physics involved, but still reliant on the analysis performed. You have set up your model using the physics interface of your choice, but it’s the end of the day and you just want to get the computed solution to your model as quickly and easily as possible, overnight. Utilizing a direct solver does not require a lot of work with manipulating solver settings and the like, but the required RAM of a direct solver increases greatly with the number of degrees of freedom in your model.
What’s the fix this time? You need a bigger computer.
What if there was another solution to all three cases…
Enter: Cloud Computing
This is where cloud computing comes into the picture. Compute clouds are services that make computing power available to those who need it, when they need it.
The service has several advantages, especially if you don’t have the time, money, and experience to invest in a traditional cluster or server rack. You might also not need a cluster available 24/7, but only need that extra compute power during certain periods of time, for instance, for that one-off analysis or task that needs to be performed quicker.
An organization can access COMSOL Multiphysics® and the hardware resources of cloud computing to run many different analyses at the time they require, utilizing the resources they require.
Utilizing cloud computing will have a positive impact on your workflow. The ability to add more compute power directly when you need it will enable you to be more agile in your day-to-day COMSOL Multiphysics® simulation work. You won’t have to worry about the lack of adequate hardware on-site and you can go about your daily business with the certainty that you can expand into the cloud whenever the situation calls for it.
Using the COMSOL® Software on Remote Computing Resources
Traditionally, when using cloud computing services, you need expertise in the network and hardware technology being used, as well as the operating system and software implemented by the cloud service to support running your application. In an example workflow, you register to the cloud service, research what specifications their machines require, rent the machine, and then connect it to your network to allow access to your license server. Next comes the easy part: installing COMSOL Multiphysics® and running your model.
However, since HPC is becoming more and more important in the CAE community, we have partnered with cloud computing providers to make it as simple as possible for you to take the step into the cloud.
Note: COMSOL Multiphysics has been able to utilize remote computing resources for a long time, either through batch jobs started from the user interface or the command line, or on-the-fly through client-server technology. For this, you only need a Floating Network License (FNL) for COMSOL Multiphysics®.