HPC success story at BW

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HPC piece at BusinessWeek.com on the transformation of Trumbull Bronze, a company that has made parts for steel mills for the past 85 years, into a new millennium company thanks to supercomputing.

A job that M-Seven did for BMW late last year shows how a company like Garvey’s can be reborn thanks to the highest of high technology. BMW planned on retooling its 900,000-square-foot paint shop in North Carolina, and it hired M-Seven to scan the entire space using sophisticated laser scanning equipment.

Once the scan was done, BMW used 600 gigabytes of data M-Seven gathered as the basis for supercomputer simulations that would help it come up with just the right process for switching over to the new equipment.

The story behind the M-Seven face is the Council on Competitiveness message that puts HPC at the core of American Competitiveness.

Economic-development experts hail this trend as a key to reviving the Rust Belt and improving national competitiveness. “The potential here is absolutely outstanding,” says Suzy Tichenor, vice-president of the Council on Competitiveness, an industry advocacy group. “The country that wants to outcompete has to outcompute. So high-performance computing is an important part of the country’s innovation capacity.”

Of course HPC is expensive, which is the Big Idea behind Sun’s network.com, OSC’s Blue Collar Computing, and other similar programs. In this case OSC did the honors:

M-Seven Technologies is participating in a program started in 2006 called Blue Collar Computing, which is run by the Ohio Supercomputer Center. The OSC, made up of a handful of Ohio universities that own supercomputers, provides expertise and time on its computers for the states’ manufacturers.

The story oversimplifies the market (c.f. statements like “Over the past decade, IBM has come to dominate the world of high-performance computing”) and has a slippery grasp on HPC, but it is another peak into an important undercurrent in the current technology discussion. It is interesting to see people in different industries excited about things we take for granted.