Fortissimo launches service to broker HPC resources

Engineers and scientists can now get access to HPC resources more easily because of the Fortissimo Marketplace, a new platform for brokering high-performance computing (HPC) services. The new cloud-based marketplace offers small manufacturing businesses fast and convenient access to supercomputing services.

Professor Mark Parsons, project coordinator for the Fortissimo project, stated: ‘We know that companies that use high-performance computing and high-performance data analytics really seek clear economic and business benefits from doing so. However, we also know that far too few companies actually use these technologies.’

The Fortissimo marketplace and its parent company emerged from a successful EU-funded initiative, the Fortissimo Project. The project is a collaborative venture to enable European SMEs to be more competitive through the use of simulation services running on high-performance computing cloud infrastructure. 

Using simulation and modelling on high performance computing systems is widely seen as an effective but very expensive design and development tool - only accessible to the largest and most financially powerful companies. The fortissimo project aims to change this, lowering the barrier to entry for new, commercial HPC users so that they can derive the benefits of HPC without the huge investment in infrastructure or the necessary skills to run and maintain a HPC cluster.

'When we ask companies why they are not using these technologies and software solutions a very common answer is its very expensive, “we lack the skills to do it”, “we can't do it in-house”, and “we wouldn’t know where to start”’ commented Parsons. In 2013, IDC analysts estimated that each dollar invested in HPC returned, on average, $356 in revenue and $38 in profits or cost savings.

‘Fortissimo is all about helping companies to take their first steps in using modelling and simulation to improve their business processes and their products’ stated Parsons.

The Fortissimo Marketplace is designed to take the complexity out of the process of procuring high-performance simulation and modelling. Through either turn-key packages or Fortissimo’s matching service, SMEs from a broad range of markets including automotive, aviation, medical engineering, manufacturing, the energy and environmental sectors can gain access to advanced simulation and modelling services operating on a cloud infrastructure.

The Fortissimo project has already conducted more than 50 experiments within the pilot phase of Fortissimo Marketplace. As a result of its Fortissimo experiment, IES, a leading building-performance modelling company, can now run simulations in hours instead of days and at half the cost of an in-house system capable of delivering the same results. Similarly, supercar manufacturer Koeinsegg, recouped its investment in HPC experimentation with Fortissimo in less than three months. Corresponding to a 1.5 per cent reduction in overall development costs of its new Koenigsegg One:1 supercar.

In the second stage of the Fortissimo project, which was initiated in November 2015, more than 30 experiments have been started. Successfully concluded experiments become case studies, which are made available to other users through the Fortissimo Marketplace to inspire evaluation of HPC simulation.

Fortissimo was first launched as a project funded by the European Commission within the I4MS initiative (ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs) framework. The aim of this project is to strengthen the global competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Europe. To do this, Fortissimo uses a cloud-infrastructure to provide SMEs from different vertical markets including automotive, aviation, medical engineering, manufacturing, and the energy and environment sectors, with easy access to computationally intensive digital simulations.

The Fortissimo project consists of two phases: the first phase started in July 2013 and ends in December 2016. Fortissimo 2 began in November 2015 and ends in October 2018. The budget for the first phase of the project totals 21.7 million Euro, 16 million of which was provided by the European Commission within the framework of the I4MS initiative. Fortissimo 2 has a budget of 11.1 million Euro, 10 million of which is again provided by the European Commission within the frame of the I4MS initiative.

So far the project has 15 core partners, consisting primarily of IT solution providers and HPC Cloud service providers, which serve as the leading support for the Fortissimo Project. The core partners are: Arctur, Atos, Bull SAS, CESGA, Cineca, GENCI, Gompute, INRIA, Intel, Scapos, Sicos, SURFsara, the University of Edinburgh (EPCC, the project coordinator), the University of Stuttgart (HLRS) and XLAB.

A more in-depth look at the Fortissmo success stroires can be found on the Fortissimo website.

Fortissmo is currently running a call for proposals for the next batch of experiments to be run as part of the project. This call is particularly focused on what it descrbies as mid cap SME’s, defiend as companies with a maximum of 2000 employees and an annual turnover below € 400 M. Priority will also be given to companies that are ‘first time’ HPC users.

The deadline for submissions as part of this latest call is the 7th December 2016. More information on this process can be found under the latest call for proposal on the company’s website.

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