Thermal Engineers Don’t Have Necessary Hardware to Thrive

23 July, 2021

Hardware Holdup: Half of Thermal Engineers Don’t Have the Right Hardware for Thermal Simulation

Thermal simulation is a specialist enterprise for a reason. It demands a very specific set of skills, which are demonstrated on purpose-built thermal simulation software and extremely powerful hardware. That hardware is essential. Whether you have the appropriate electronics CFD software or not can become irrelevant if you don’t have the infrastructure upon which it can thrive.

With that in mind, we wanted to find out just how many engineers are running their current simulation suites on outdated or inappropriate hardware. Through a poll of 50 professional thermal engineers (including users of the top five simulation platforms) we found that a massive 41% don’t feel they have the right hardware in place for thermal simulation. Additionally, more than a quarter (26%) believe that they have actively been prevented from solving on more cores due to the limitations of their current hardware.

A deep dive into specific verticals identified even more troubles, with a whopping 44% of thermal engineers in the automotive sector unable to access the proper hardware. A fifth of those in aerospace (18%) face similar hardware concerns. 

Every Cloud

The dilemma here is clear. Thermal simulation has always needed significant computing power. The nature of coupled, non-linear equations used to calculate airflow and temperature require impressive compute to solve, and that has traditionally demanded substantial up-front investment. 

On the other hand, it’s not acceptable to seriously limit the potential of thermal engineers, and the results of effective thermal simulation for a business, by simply not providing the tools to do their job. A balance needs to be struck.

That balance is the cloud: using existing hardware to access a cloud server that connects you to a more powerful machine. Engineers can benefit from greatly improved performance without sinking exorbitant fees into hardware upgrades. According to research from Forrester, more than half (58%) of high-performance computing (HPC) specialists would see better overall performance if they implemented a cloud strategy.

It’s an approach that hasn’t yet had the attention it deserves. Previous 6SigmaET research has suggested that just 2% of thermal engineers currently use the cloud for solving simulations, even though more than a third (36%) of respondents hoped for investment in cloud technologies rather than hardware improvements, and almost a quarter (24%) were actively compromising on accuracy due to the limitations of their hardware.

That’s why, at Future Facilities, we’ve committed to providing the tools and platforms to solve simulations in the cloud. A well-structured cloud strategy can alleviate the pressures from on-site hardware for thermal engineers, who can rely on computing power from elsewhere to overcome threats to their work and help them to excel.

Given the speed at which the electronics space changes and evolves, with designs becoming more sophisticated, the proportion of engineers currently at risk of being left behind makes this strategy extremely important. Cloud-based alternatives benefit from the flexibility of ongoing updates and feature additions as the platform develops to reflect its user’s needs.

Ultimately, unsuitable hardware is an issue that will hamper even the best of engineers. Using the cloud to provide the performance they need to excel eliminates up-front investment costs and reduces the time to solve simulations – whether or not their on-site hardware is suitable.

Blog written by: Matt Evans, Senior Product Engineer

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