New software releases headline year’s achievements
By Romain Aubry and David McDaniel|December 2022
The Meshing, Visualization and Computational Environments Technical Committee explores the application of computer science to preprocessing, post-processing and infrastructure in support of computational simulation in the aerospace community.
The year brought its fair share of innovation, successes and surprises. Mesh adaptivity made a substantial impact compared to more conventional workflows. The High Performance Computing Modernization Program, HPCMP, kept its momentum in delivering solutions for the U.S. Department of Defense. New solutions were developed regarding structured mesh topologies, and a geometry kernel was acquired by a technological giant. Meshing and geometry are at the core of computational environments. Given the plethora of applications relying on these fields, it was surprising to see a decreasing number of new researchers moving into these areas. For example, computer-aided design kernel developments have been left to the private sector even while numerous improvements and breakthroughs are still needed.
In May, Nvidia of California acquired Solid Modeling Simulations, a CAD engine based on nonuniform B-spline representations. Nvidia will integrate SMS’s geometric and solid modeling libraries into its Omniverse, a design, collaboration and virtual world simulation platform.
In June, the mesh adaptation technical focus group of the 4th AIAA High-Lift Prediction Workshop held during the Aviation forum demonstrated that mesh adaptation improves the consistency of maximum lift calculations based on Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes models over more expensive expert-crafted mesh systems for a transport aircraft model with deployed high-lift devices. The improvement in consistency contributed to the understanding of RANS modeling errors but did not lead to direct improvements in the comparisons of simulation to experiment.
The U.S. Defense Department’s HPCMP continued to build and maintain an extensive array of supercomputers, high-speed and secure networking and software development supporting the department’s research, development, test and evaluation community. In August, the government formally accepted the fourth-generation Defense Research and Engineering Network, DREN 4, and hundreds of government and contractor sites continue to migrate to the 100 gigabits per second network through the remainder of the year. The HPCMP is on track to substantially increase the allocated compute resources in the coming months.
The HPCMP’s Computational Research and Engineering Acquisition Tools and Environments, or CREATE, program released new versions of all products in its suite of simulation tools supporting air, land and sea vehicle acquisitions. In particular, the CREATE-Air Vehicles project in November released version 12.2 of the Helios rotary-wing simulation tool, version 12.5 of the Kestrel fixed-wing simulation tool and version 3.0 of the ADAPT conceptual design and optimization tool. In March, the HPCMP meshing and geometry tool, Capstone, was fully parallelized, including the volume meshing of boundary layer elements. A new hybrid geometry kernel based on CAD and discrete data is under development.
Regarding structured meshes, the automation of high-quality hexahedral meshes remains an open challenge even after large efforts from the scientific and industrial communities. This is especially true for cases that scale with a massive number of geometric components. However, with the prospects of automated design, we now face a new need: recursive scalability. This need was addressed with the introduction of the GridPro API for Python. Engineers can now create a pipeline for the automation of meshing by emulating the human’s actions or programming for a geometry attribute-based automation. This streamlines the workflow by removing the user interaction and makes the simulation cycle orders of magnitude faster than its meshing counterparts.