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April 05, 2004
IBM Introduces Grid Computing For Design Analysis
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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IBM Introduces Grid Computing For Design Analysis

IBM has introduced a new Grid-based product offering that helps automotive and aerospace companies speed time to market and improve the quality of their products through a more rapid and comprehensive engineering design analysis process.

IBM also announced new Grid computing projects, including one at MAGNA STEYR, a leading automotive engineering supplier. MAGNA STEYR, a wholly owned group of Magna International Inc. in Toronto, Canada, is one of the world's leading suppliers of niche vehicle production, assembly and concept development, as well as a leading supplier of powertrain modules and all-wheel-drive systems. The Group, with a total of about 11,000 employees, strives to be a value-adding partner for its customers. MAGNA STEYR provides its customers, some of the world's major automakers, with the broadest range of automotive competencies in the industry -- everything from initial vehicle concept design, styling and
prototype production to final assembly of niche vehicles. Six different vehicles by order of three different OEM's are currently assembled by MAGNA STEYR at its largest plant in Graz, Austria: The Mercedes-Benz G-class and E-class 4MATIC, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Chrysler Voyager, the Saab 9-3 Convertible and the BMW X3. The assembly capacity amounts to approximately 200,000 vehicles per year.

By grid-enabling CATIA, IBM's collaborative, virtual product development application developed by Dassault Systhmes, IBM and Platform Computing, a commercial Grid software provider, helped MAGNA STEYR to analyze the components of an entire vehicle in a few hours. In the past, such an analysis took several days.

"Grid technology from IBM and Platform Computing reduced the time required for our clash testing from 72 hours to 4 hours and contributed significantly to enhancing our design quality," said Dr. Heinz Mayer, MAGNA STEYR.

With over 12 years of experience, Platform Computing is the largest independent enterprise grid software vendor, with over 1,600 customers worldwide. Platform's grid solutions, including Platform LSF and Platform IT Analytics, are used by manufacturing companies to shorten product design and testing cycles, improve time to market, significantly reduce costs, and deliver higher quality products. To simplify grid deployment, Platform has grid-enabled over 100 industry applications such as Ansys, Abaqus, Dassault Systhmes, Engineous Software, Fluent, LS-Dyna, and MSC Software.

The IBM Grid offering for engineering design: clash analysis in automotive, aerospace, and defense helps automotive and aerospace design engineers use Grid technology for more rapid evaluation of design alternatives during sub-assembly clash analysis. Developed in cooperation with Platform Computing, the offering includes CATIA and ENOVIA software. It reduces the time required to capture, compile, and analyze clash research data and can accelerate product development.

"Clash analysis is an integral part of our PLM Solutions, and critical to our customers' success," said Dominique Florack, executive vice-president, Strategy, Research and Development, Dassault Systhmes. "The combination of Dassault Systhmes' ENOVIA Clash Management offering along with IBM's Grid technology can provide a unique competitive advantage. We are working with IBM to leverage the power of Grid computing to help our customers take maximum advantage of PLM."

According to independent market analyst IDC, Grid computing in the manufacturing sector is projected to be a $2.6 billion market by 2006. IDC projects the total Grid opportunity at more than $13 billion by 2007, a compound annual growth rate of 83 percent.

"Increased bandwidth, the acceptance of industry standards and sophisticated software are the key enablers of Grid computing and IBM has embraced each component within our Product Lifecycle Management portfolio," said Scott Hopkins, general manager, IBM PLM. "Leveraging Grid computing, our supply chain customers are taking guess work and costly errors out of product design to position themselves as innovative partners."

"As automotive vendors outsource more and more design work of mechanical and electrical components to their supply partners, dealing with more complexity in less time becomes a major competitive advantage," said Merten Slominsky, General Manager, Industrial Manufacturing, Platform. "MAGNA STEYR has realized that integrating leading PLM and PDM software with Platform's Grid software can produce substantial gains in quality and time to market for their core business. As a consequence, their application produces results up to 18 times faster, delivering outstanding productivity gains."

IBM also announced new Grid projects at Cetim, the French technical center for the mechanical industry, which will use Grid technology in design and fabrication; at the Institut Frangais du pitrole (French Petroleum Institute or IFP), an independent research center for oil exploration, and at OMRON, a Japanese electronics manufacturer, to speed product development.

Grid computing is a technique and technology set that enables the virtualization of distributed computing and data resources such as processing, network bandwidth and storage capacity to create a single system image, providing users and applications access to vast collective IT capabilities. Just as an Internet user views a unified instance of content via the Web, a grid user essentially sees a single, large virtual computer. Probably one of the most recognized examples of grid computing is the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) At Home project that has harnessed the power of hundreds of thousands of otherwise idle computers and logging millions of hours of "free" computer time. At its core, grid computing is based on an open set of standards and protocols, for example, Open Grid Services Architecture (OGSA), that enable communication across heterogeneous, geographically dispersed environments. With grid computing, organizations can optimize computing and data resources, pool them for large capacity workloads, share them across networks, and enable collaboration. Grid computing can be viewed as yet another step in the evolutionary progression of other computing developments, such as distributed computing, the Web, peer-to-peer computing, and virtualization technologies. Like the Web grid computing hides complexity, but unlike the Web, which mainly enables communication, grid computing enables full collaboration toward common business goals. Like peer-to-peer, grid computing allows users to share files, but grid computing also allows many-to-many sharing - not only files but other computational resources, as well. With clusters and distributed computing, grids bring computing resources together, although, grids can be geographically distributed and heterogeneous. For virtualization technologies, grid computing enables the virtualization of IT resources, but unlike virtualization technologies, which virtualize a single system, grid computing enables the virtualization of much larger and disparate IT resources. This announcement by IBM
illustrates an excellent use of grid computing capabilities and will probably be the first of many future forays into solving complex and demanding design and engineering problems.

Jeffrey Rowe is the editor and publisher of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at
Email Contact or 408.850.9230.

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