NAFEMS 2021 World Congress

In the last week of October, nearly 950 participants from industry and academia gathered for the International Association for the Engineering Modeling, Analysis and Simulation 2021 World Congress (NWC21). Originally planned as a hybrid event, all programming unfortunately had to be shifted online. However, this year’s Congress was also held in conjunction with the 5th International SPDM (Simulation Process & Data Management) Conference, the NAFEMS Multiphysics Simulation Conference, and a dedicated Automotive CAE Symposium. 

Unsurprisingly, the online and truly globally accessible conference also attracted a record breaking over 550 abstract submissions. Among those accepted, EXCELLERAT and POP Centres of Excellence gave five 20-minute presentations ranging from improving airplane simulations to improving the new user HPC experience. Throughout the week Monday – Thursday, representatives from EXCELLERAT, POP, and FocusCoE also presented more general videos and materials on current projects at their 3D interactive virtual booth. This year, we welcomed over 100 visitors to the booth, and the completely new NAFEMS World of Engineering Simulation 3D experience had up to 600 conference participants strolling the virtual exhibition hall at any given time. 

Beginning on Tuesday the 26th, Ricard Borrell presented Airplane Simulations on Heterogeneous Pre-Exascale Architectures on behalf of EXCELLERAT CoE. He used the example of improved airplane aerodynamics simulations to discuss how their Alya code is preparing researchers to fully utilise the next generation of Exascale HPC systems and their heterogeneous hardware architectures. Without codes optimised like Alya, current HPC codes wouldn’t be capable of running in parallel on different types of processors to the extent that new Exascale systems will require. Thus, they would use only a fraction of the speed and processing power available at Exascale.

Continuing in this theme, Amgad Dessoky presented an overview of how the EXCELLERAT Centre of Excellence is Paving the Way for the Development to Exascale Multiphysics Simulations including the 6 computational codes they are optimizing for Exascale: Nek5000, Alya, AVBP, TPLS, FEniCS, and Coda. Using automotive, aerospace, energy, and manufacturing industrial sector use cases, he described the common challenges for developers and potential users of HPC Exascale applications. Participants were also invited to discuss how EXCELLERAT can best support the needs and required competencies of the Multiphysics simulation community going forward.

One of these required competencies is the ability to understand and improve the performance bottlenecks of parallel codes. In answer, Federico Panichi presented a talk titled Improving the Performance of Engineering Codes on behalf of the Performance Optimisation and Productivity (POP) Centre of Excellence. The set of hierarchical metrics forming the POP performance assessment methodology cuts out the time-consuming trial and error process of code optimisation by identifying issues such as memory bottlenecks, communication inefficiencies, and load imbalances. He demonstrated with the example of optimised engineering codes how POP services could enable any EU or UK academic or commercial organisation to speed up time to solution, solve larger, more challenging problems or reduce compute costs free of charge.

On Wednesday the 27th, presentations continued with Christian Gscheidle representing EXCELLERAT and A Flexible and Efficient In-situ Data Analysis Framework for CFD Simulations. Because Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations Increasingly produce far more data than they can save in real time, researchers often see final analysis results and lose the intermediate data. It also means that they must wait until the full simulation runs before being able to make any improvements. In contrast, he presented the EXCELLERAT tool that uses machine learning to perform in-situ analyses on data produced during large-scale simulations in real time so that researchers can see intermediate results and early trends. Using this tool, an example HVAC duct from an automotive set up use case showed a reduced compute time because researchers were able to abort simulations with unwanted behaviour.

Wrapping up the presentations, Janik Schüssler presented Creating Connections: Enabling High Performance Computing for Industry through a Data Exchange & Workflow Platform on behalf of EXCELLERAT. Continuing in the theme of the previous presentations, this tool addresses the needs and competencies of current and potential HPC users, albeit in a slightly different way. As discussed in the talk, where other tools or trainings work to develop HPC competencies in the user, this prototype platform would bring HPC to the user both in terms of competencies and location. The user would be able to remotely access clusters (currently both HLRS Hawk and Vulcan) from anywhere using an authorised device. Additionally, they would be able to run simulations in the web front end without any command line interactions, which can have a steep learning curve for new users. Ultimately, the savings in logistical coordination, travel, and training time would drastically lower the entry barrier to HPC use.

If you’re interested in following how EXCELLERAT, POP, and all the European HPC Centres of Excellence are preparing us for Exascale and improving the HPC user experience, sign up for our newsletters:


POP CoE Newsletter

Focus CoE Newsletter (for coverage of all European HPC CoEs)

List of innovations by the CoEs, spotted by the EU innovation radar

The EU Innovation Radar aims to identify high-potential innovations and innovators. It is an important source of actionable intelligence on innovations emerging from research and innovation projects funded through European Union programmes. 
These are the innovations from the HPC Centres of Excellence as spotted by the EU innovation radar:

Title: GROMACS, a versatile package to perform molecular dynamics
Market maturity: Exploring
Project: BioExcel
Innovation Topic: Excellent Science


Title: Urgent Computing services for the impact assessment in the immediate aftermath of an earthquake
Market maturity: Tech Ready
Market creation potential: High
Project: ChEESE
Innovation Topic: Excellent Science


Table: New coupled earth system model
Market maturity: Tech Ready
Project: ESiWACE
Innovation Topic: Excellent Science


Title: In-Situ Analysis of CFD Simulations
Market maturity: Tech Ready
Market creation potential: High
Project: Excellerat
Innovation Topic: Excellent Science

Title: Interactive in situ visualization in VR
Market maturity: Tech Ready
Market creation potential: High
Project: Excellerat
Innovation Topic: Excellent Science

Title: Machine Learning Methods for Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Data
Market maturity: Tech Ready
Market creation potential: Noteworthy
Project: Excellerat
Innovation Topic: Excellent Science


Title: Quantum Simulation as a Service
Market maturity: Exploring
Market creation potential: Noteworthy
Project: MaX
Innovation Topic: Excellent Science


Strong scaling performance for human scale blood-flow modelling

 A Use Case by

Short description

To get the best out of future exascale machines, current codes must be able to demonstrate good scaling performance on current machines. The HemeLB code has demonstrated such characteristics to full machine scale on SuperMUC-NG. However, this performance must be aligned with the ability to solve practical problems. We have developed and deployed a self-coupled version of HemeLB that allows us to simultaneously study flows in linked arterial and venous vasculatures in 3D. In this use case, we look towards the application of flow in an arteriovenous fistula. A fistula is created in patients with kidney failure to increase flow in a chosen vein in order to provide an access point for dialysis treatment.

Results & Achievements

In collaboration with POP CoE, we were able to demonstrate HemeLB’s capacity for strong scaling behaviour up to the full production partition of SuperMUC-NG (>300,000 cores) whilst using a non-trivial vascular domain. This highlighted several challenges of running simulations at scale and also identified avenues for us to improve the performance of the HemeLB code. We’ve also run self-coupled simulations on personalised 3D arteries and veins of the left forearm with and without an arteriovenous fistula being created. The initial flow from our modified model showed good agreement with that seen in a clinical study.


The first objective of this use case was to demonstrate and assess the strong scaling performance of HemeLB to the largest core counts possible. This was to enable us to evaluate current performance and identify improvements for future exascale machines. The second main objective was to demonstrate the ability of HemeLB to utilise this performance to study flows on human-scale vasculatures. The combination of both aspects will be essential to enabling the creation of a virtual human able to simulate the specific physiology of an individual for diagnostic purposes and evaluation of potential treatments.


Use Case Owner

Peter Coveney
University College London

Collaborating Institutions

POP CoE (Julich Supercomputing Centre)

Video of the Week: POPCast #4: Why Does Code Matter?

10. February 2021
pop png
In this POPCast, Jonathan Boyle, an HPC Application Analyst for POP, chats to regular host Fouzhan Hosseini about why code matters, its value to the customer and how POP works with customers to increase that value.

POP Webinar: PyPOP - An Interactive Tool for Performance Assessment

13. December 2020

This live webinar gave an overview of the NAG PyPOP tool and how it can be used to streamline the process of application performance analysis. 

Phil Tooley demonstrated the PyPOP analysis workflow, showed how the PyPOP wizard can be used to quickly calculate the POP metrics from captured profiling data and generate a performance report.

>> Read the full post

New POP CoE blog post: Speedups of a Volcanic Hazard Assessment Code

11. November 2020

Latest blog post by POP CoE – discover how their work on The Probabilistic Volcanic Hazard Assessment Work Flow package (PVHA_WF) led to speedups of around 500x over the total execution time.

The package is a workflow created for the ChEESE CoE Pilot Demonstrator 6 (PD6).

>> POP CoE Blog Post
>> ChEESE Pilot Demonstrators

(c) POP CoE

ETP4HPC handbook 2020 released

6. November 2020

The 2020 edition of the ETP4HPC Handbook of HPC projects is available. It offers a comprehensive overview over the European HPC landscape that currently consists of around 50 active projects and initiatives. Amongst these are the 14 Centres of Excellence and FocusCoE, that are also represented in this edition of the handbook.

>> Read here

Visit POP CoE at the digital NAFEMS 2020 conference

5. November 2020

Visit POP CoE’s virtual booth at the NAFEMS 2020 conference and hear Fouzhan Hosseini’s talk on “Parallel Engineering Codes: Performance Optimisation with the POP Methodology” on Tuesday (Nov 9th) afternoon. Registration is free. 

>> NAFEMS 2020

EXCELLERAT, MaX and POP at the International CAE Conference 2020

20. October 2020


The three HPC centres of excellence EXCELLERAT, POP and MaX will participate at the 36th edition of the International CAE conference 2020, that will be held online from 30th November until 3rd December 2020.

Under the topic “At the epicentre of the digital transformation of industry”, high-performance computing is a key enabler for this digital transformation and will be presented at a dedicated collateral event on Wednesday, December 2nd at 14:00h CET. 

In this session, the technical director of EXCELLERAT Amgad Dessoky will present a session titled “EXCELLERAT: paving the way for the evolution towards Exascale”. The EXCELLERAT activity brings together European experts to establish a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Engineering Applications on HPC with a broad service portfolio, paving the way for the evolution towards Exascale. The aim is to solve highly complex and costly engineering problems, and create enhanced technological solutions even at the development stage.

In the exhibition, MaX and EXCELLERAT will have a joint virtual booth together to show their latest results. The virtual format makes it possible to interact with both CoEs via video and chat. The booth will visible for three months after the event. 

POP CoE will als obe present at the event with a virtual booth to exhibit its latest research results. 

>> CAE Conference Website