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Editor’s Pick: Visualize a Billion Cell CFD Solution on a Workstation

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Tecplot Inc. has been developing engineering, scientific and numerical model visualization and plotting software since the early 1980s. Its flagship application, Tecplot 360, was launched in 1988 and today many pundits consider it among a handful of leading-edge applications for visualizing, plotting, animating and communicating your CFD (computational fluid dynamics) analyses. Tecplot just released what’s officially called Tecplot 360 EX 2014 Release 1. This release, however, will mostly be known as Tecplot 360 EX with SZL technology.

“SZL?” I hear you inquire.

That stands for Subzone Load-on-Demand. There’s a white paper linked off of today’s Pick of the Week write-up that explains it more fully. For our purposes here, the working definition of SZL technology is that it increases memory efficiency by combining data management algorithms, advanced data requirement predictors, parallelization and additional code optimizations.

The important thing, however, is what increased “memory utilization” means for you. In a nutshell, it means that Tecplot 360 EX with SZL technology potentially enables you to load and analyze data on your desktop or laptop engineering workstation that you currently believe can only be executed on some HPC (high-performance computing) setup.

To give you an idea of what we’re talking about here, Tecplot provided some examples of the memory utilization improvements in Tecplot 360 EX with SZL technology and what they empower you to do:

  • Post-process a 2 billion cell data set on a typical laptop with 8GB RAM
  • Load a 408M cell model with less than 5GB of RAM on an engineering laptop
  • Process five 100M cell solutions at one time on a commodity laptop with 8GB of RAM

To quantify this performance improvement for existing Tecplot 360 users, this means that Tecplot 360 EX with SZL technology uses 92% less memory for large CFD results and it averages 9.6 times faster than previous releases. By the by, your upgrade is complimentary if you have a current maintenance license. If you’re new to Tecplot, pricing for this release starts at less than what most mechanical CAD systems begin at.

Other new or improved features in Tecplot 360 EX with SZL technology that help you complete your work faster include the ability to create plots in multiple frames on multiple pages and an updated quick macro panel. Tecplot 360 EX can also load more than 30 common CFD data types from a single loading interface.

Some years back I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Peery, the co-founder and chairman of Tecplot Inc. He’s one of the truly good guys in the engineering and scientific software biz, and he really knows his stuff. Peery always struck me as the type of guy who enjoyed being in the business well enough, but his real passion was discovering ways that would make scientific and numerical model visualization and plotting better and easier to use so that more engineers, scientists and educators could advance their own understanding. Tecplot 360 EX with SZL technology seems to reflect the idea of developing what engineers really need rather than just what’s kind of cool, albeit this release of Tecplot 360 EX sounds awfully cool.

Read today’s Pick of the Week to learn more about Tecplot 360 EX with SZL technology. There’s lots of links for you, including one for a trial copy. Good stuff.

Thanks, Pal. — Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering

Read today’s pick of the week write-up.

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About Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Desktop Engineering's Editor-at-Large. Contact him via de-editors@deskeng.com.