Tentech LLC

Simulation at the speed of thought

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How TEN TECH LLC is taking advantage of the latest CPU and GPU technology from AMD to bring answers to its customers faster than ever before

TEN TECH LLC was founded with a simple business model in mind: quality always prevails over quantity. It provides manufacturing companies with high-end mechanical engineering design, analysis, physical testing support and hardware prototyping services.

Alongside its engineering services, the company is also a reseller for a range of simulation technologies from Dassault Systèmes, Siemens Digital Industries, MSC.Software among others. To learn more about what TEN TECH LLC does, AMD sat down with chief technology officer William Villers and discovered a company that takes providing efficient and accurate simulation services to its clients at its very core.

“We are primarily a contractor, supplying engineering design and simulation services,” says Villers. “Our core competency is shock and vibration, thermal and aerodynamics, particularly in aerospace and space related electronics.

“We also design and build things and have the expertise to do this in house, so we naturally engage in helping others design hardware outside of the military field, such as medical and consumer products.”

Breaking things in real life is a lot more fun than breaking things on the computer. There’s a lot more satisfaction in having pieces in your hand rather than red is bad, blue is good, on the screen.

Alongside the provision of contracted simulation consultancy, TEN TECH LLC has also recently begun to build research and develop its own products involving quadcopters and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). These products are typically used for sensor development and testing, whether that’s a wind speed sensor, an IR camera or GPS units that are integrated into a quadcopters.

“It’s almost a side project,” says Villers, “But it’s far more fun than doing stuff on the computer as you actually get to touch hardware. Breaking things in real life is a lot more fun that breaking things on the computer! There’s a lot more satisfaction in having pieces in your hand rather than red is bad, blue is good, on the screen.”

TEN TECH LLC’s customer list reads like a who’s who of advanced engineering and manufacturing, with its typical engagement varying greatly. “We have companies that don’t have much of an idea of what we do for a living and they need to have some simulation work done to qualify their products. We also have companies that have never become involved in aspects of harsh environments and vibration simulation before or do not have in-house capability.

“We get to participate in design reviews and represent our customers as their Subject Matter Experts for shock & vibration or thermal management.”

Additionally, TEN TECH LLC also often carries out simulation projects for large companies that already have teams in place; this can be because they either need help due to increased workload, or they need a particular expertise or set of tools that TEN TECH LLC can bring to the table.

What connects TEN TECH LLC’s customers is a desire to better understand the performance of their products or current product concept in the real world. To achieve this outcome, TEN TECH LLC’s team has built up a set of skills that focus on delivering simulation results that are both robust (in terms of suitability to the information required from the simulation), but also delivered in a timely manner.

As Villers explains, “As much as software companies want to say that their tool is the tool for everything, we know for a fact that this is not the case. In many of our projects, we use three or four different software tools that you might see as competing with each other or overlapping.”

So, we have the ability to pick and choose, jump from one to the other, based on which tool does a better job than the others.

“At a large company, you can’t afford to do that simply because they have 300 users, so they can’t just buy one of each. They have a large budget, but they have to make decisions that are based on a company’s standard or an ability for the teams to be trained and work together.”

TEN TECH LLC doesn’t have this issue as all of its users have an intimate knowledge and competence in three or four different products. “We acquired that expertise a lot faster than other companies because we don’t have time to breathe and we just get on with the job, because nobody gives us time to do that stuff.

So, we have to adapt and pick the best tools; tools being software or hardware.”

Speed vs cost: The bottom line

It’s often the case that technologies are seen as either being the fastest or the cheapest – but rarely both. Villers feels that when it comes to the hardware that he and his team selects for their demanding simulation work, both in computation capability and speed of delivery, AMD provides them with the ability to not only deliver solid, robust results, but to gain serious competitive advantage from it.

According to Villers about computational speed and how it influences TEN TECH LLC’s bottom line, Villiers’ opinion was that speed is definitely providing them with bottom line benefits. As he says: “We’re able to deliver to our customers faster so that makes us more reactive.

“We’ve invested heavily, probably more than the typical small business, but we’re not just geeks that marvel at the latest shiny gizmo.

“If a piece of hardware does our job in six hours instead of eight, that’s two hours a day we can push two hours of something else. As a result, we’re able to deliver faster than general because of the investment we’re making in software and hardware, so this sets us apart from large companies where the main issue is inertia: they can’t just go and buy $50,000 of hardware just because they want it.

The acceleration we can get on some of the CAE and finite element solvers when you plug in a Radeon Pro VII is incredible; you get 2x performance simply by having that graphics card. ROI, for us, is that it pays for itself in less than a week. So why wouldn’t we do that?

“We can and we do.” But is speed the be all and end all of the selection choice? For TEN TECH LLC, it would appear that speed is an equal factor alongside Return on Investment (ROI).

“The [AMD] Radeon Pro VII is a good example of jumping on new technology to gain an advantage that’s not just about speed,” says Villers. “We’re a small company so price vs. speed ratio and ROI influence our decisions. The main competitor of AMD has equivalent hardware, but the main advantage of AMD is to be far more affordable.”

The Radeon™ Pro VII is a graphics card that has 16GB of extremespeed RAM, and is optimized for double-precision calculations, so simulations are displayed all fully shaded, all texture mapped on screen of large assemblies, as you would expect. But on top of that, it’s also a GPU accelerator and that’s one of the technologies that TEN TECH LLC have investigated in some depth.

“The acceleration we can get on some of the CAE and finite element solvers when you plug in a Radeon Pro VII is incredible; we get 2x performance simply by having that graphics card. ROI, for us, is that it pays for itself in less than a week. So why wouldn’t we do that?

There’s absolutely no question – it really is as simple as that!”

Delivering the goods

For TEN TECH LLC, delivery of detailed, accurate and complex simulation results in a timely manner is key. “We do not charge our customers for compute time. We don’t spend our time spinning our wheels making ridiculously large models that take forever to solve, so we can charge our customers more. Instead, we are using hardware to our advantage to lower all costs of doing business. Our customers pay us for results, a study or a simulation, and we should have the tools to allow us to do that, so it’s our cost, it shouldn’t be theirs – that’s pretty unique.

As Villers concludes, AMD is providing TEN TECH LLC with ample opportunity to move its business forward and that comes down to speed and cost. “For us, we need the fastest all the time because we save resources and our money by doing that. AMD’s GPU price performance, I think, is unbeatable. The hardware is top notch at a price that’s shockingly low sometimes”.

amd.com/RadeonProVII | tentechllc.com

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