Ohio builds AweSim Web-based supercomputing apps

The Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) is bringing high-performance computing power to small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses with its new AweSim Web-based app store.

AweSim supplies infrastructure and affordable, easy to use apps for HPC modeling and simulation. The apps will help integrate manufacturing expertise, simulation software and cloud-based computing and storage resources within a digitized workflow. The expectation is that giving businesses access to the design tools, technology and expertise will level the playing field between Ohio’s small businesses and larger companies.

“Simulation-driven design replaces physical product prototyping with faster and less expensive computer simulations, reducing the time to take products to market, while improving quality and cutting costs,” said Kevin Wohlever, director of the shared infrastructure division of the Ohio Technology Consortium, according to HPC Wire. “Unfortunately, many smaller manufacturers are missing out on this competitive advantage, because they cannot afford to invest in hardware, software or staff training. With our program, all that changes.”

Licenses for an HPC application can cost $50,000 annually, said Tom Lange, director of modeling and simulation in Procter & Gamble’s corporate research and development group, out of the range of most small businesses, according to a report in Computerworld. By contrast, using AweSim could cost a business as little as $200 to $500 to run a simulation and package the results in a report. 

The initial apps to be developed under AweSim will address needs that have been identified by industry partners in the areas of advanced materials, agribusiness and food processing, and medical technologies. 

The $6.4 million public-private initiative is being rolled out by OSC and is funded through Ohio’s Third Frontier Commission with additional support from project partners Procter & Gamble, Intel, AltaSim Technologies, TotalSim USA, Kinetic Vision and Nimbis Services.

The Nimbis commercial Web-based marketplace will be personalized and rebranded for AweSim, which will use some open-source HPC tools in its apps. OSC is also working on agreements with major HPC software vendors to make parts of their tools available as apps, according to Computerworld. The app store is slated to open at the end of the first quarter of next year, with one app and several tools that have been ported for the Web. The plan is to eventually spin off AweSim into a private company. 

AweSim is a spinoff of the Blue Collar Computing (BCC) initiative, an OSC program begun in the mid-2000s to give smaller users access to HPC systems via a commercial HPC cloud service operated by OSC and Nimbis Services. BCC, however, requires users to purchase consulting services, reported Computerworld. Consulting services are available as an add-on service with AweSim, but not mandated.

While the federal government has programs giving private industry access to its supercomputing, none appear to be available in an app format. Last month the Department of Energy announced it awarded 59 projects from government, academia and industry access to two of its supercomputers through its Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment, or INCITE, program.

In the private sector, IBM is making its Watson technology available as a development platform in the cloud in the hopes of prompting third-party developers to create new applications that take advantage of Watson’s ability to learn from its interactions with data and reprogram itself. IBM is providing a developer tool kit, educational materials and access to Watson’s application programming interface.

The rollout of AweSim was announced at the supercomputing conference SC13, held in Denver in late November. SC13 is sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery and the IEEE Computer Society. Find out more about the AweSim program at its website.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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