Today, in another sign of the simulation industry’s consolidation, ANSYS acquired the North Carolina-headquartered CEI (Computational Engineering International, Inc.), a company best known for its EnSight software.
EnSight is post-processing software for the CFD (computational fluid dynamics) industry. The company distinguishes its offering from the competition by integration photo-realistic rendering into its visualization environment. The upcoming update EnSight 10.2, for instance, features raytracing — a common characteristic in highend 3D modeling and dedicated rendering programs but a rarity in post-processing packages for simulation.
With EnSight 10.2, “You can output your images or animations to our photo-realistic rendering system for shadows, reflections, and more accurate lighting. This is an ‘off-line’ rendering system, so you are free to continue your work in EnSight while rendering takes place,” the company writes.
From Good to Great Visualization
“We have good visualization tools, but CEI has great visualization tools,” explained Mark Hindsbo, ANSYS’ VP and general manager. “We’re integrating EnSight as a platform technology, targeting our CFD products first. Most immediately, CEI will enrich our core markets, but their technology is also going to be a component that helps us in the longer terms.”
ANSYS Workbench, a collection of simulation tools, includes some tools for simulation data viewing. Therefore, the integration of EnSight’s features into Workbench would add a new level of realism. In the press announcement of the acquisition, Hindsbo stated, “By bringing CEI’s leading visualization tools into the ANSYS portfolio, customers will be able to make better engineering and business decisions, leading to even more amazing products in the future.”
ANSYS, like many leading simulation tool providers, is interested in expanding the simulation software user base. Offering realistic, raytraced rendering — the kind people are used to seeing in media and entertainment software — could make complex simulation results easier to understand for a larger audience — “people who consume simulation in a casual context,” as Hindsbo described them.
Big Data Demands HPC-Powered Post-Processing
As Hindsbo sees it, “Post-processing needs are getting much more intense because of Big Data. In some cases, the post-processing computation is almost as intense as the processing itself.”
CEI tackles the growing model sizes and data volumes with integrated high-performance computing (HPC) features. “EnSight HPC and its signature feature, RLSOS gives CEI the ability to handle real world HPC-sized models … EnSight HPC doesn’t ask you to predigest the data or pre-filter the data or copy the data from your compute server over the network, it works with your data where it was computed,” the company explained.
EnSight currently maintains partnerships with a number of leading simulation software vendors, including those competing with ANSYS. “We’ve always believe in an open platform, in being technology agnostics,” said Hindsbo. “So it’s fine for EnSight to be integrated into our rivals’ products.”
With this acquisition, CEI’s 27-person team becomes part of ANSYS’s distributed workforce of 3,000.