Workshop presentations highlight industry’s use of high-performance computing

ORNL's Suzy Tichenor

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Industrial HPC Partnerships Program has fostered collaboration and innovation between government and the private sector for the past 2 years. Recently project director Suzy Tichenor reached out to new audiences as she traveled to Stuttgart, Germany, and Denver, Colorado, to showcase the program’s expansion and achievements.

The partnerships program aims to keep the United States competitive globally by giving companies access to leadership computing resources. “Our reach into industry is gaining visibility as we gain traction,” said Tichenor, who was the only Department of Energy (DOE) representative at the International Workshop for Industrial High-Performance Computing in Stuttgart. Representatives from university and government supercomputing centers in Europe, Asia, and the United States came together June 27–28 to present their respective programs, explain how companies use various supercomputing resources, and discuss industrial computing needs in different environments.

Tichenor explained that the Industrial HPC Partnerships Program provides multiple pathways for industry to gain access to the HPC systems and expertise at the OLCF. These include the INCITE program, managed jointly by the Oak Ridge and Argonne Leadership Computing Facilities, the Leadership Computing Challenge of the Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research, and the Director’s Discretion awards made locally through the OLCF. Each of these programs allows researchers to gain time on the OLCF’s Jaguar, a supercomputer capable of 2.3 thousand trillion calculations per second.

The next stop was Denver, where the sixth annual Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) conference convened July 10–14. SciDAC brought together a distinguished network of computational scientists and researchers for technical talks, collaboration, and networking. Tichenor chaired the conference’s industrial panel. “The kinds of problems industry researchers are tackling are complementary to the problems that DOE is trying to solve,” Tichenor said. Solutions to many of these problems will impact the nation’s efforts to increase energy efficiency and sustainability.

The three panel participants ranged in experience from an entrepreneurial startup to the Fortune 50. A representative from GE Global Research explained how OLCF resources allowed the firm to study, for the first time, unsteady flows in the blade rows of turbomachines, such as the large-diameter fans used in jet engines. A participant from United Technologies Research Center shared results from simulations of liquid fuel injection in combustors, critical components of aircraft engines. Progress in both of these areas will lead to greater aircraft fuel efficiency and reduced pollutant emissions. The chief technology officer from start-up Caitin explained how the company is using simulation-based design to develop a novel cooling system that will offer exceptional heat transfer at very low energy cost, and scalability for applications ranging from entire data centers down to individual chips. —by Eric Gedenk