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Case Study

ARA Reduced IT Support Costs and Increased Solver Speeds with an HPC Appliance from TotalCAE


“We started this [investigating turnkey HPC appliances for simulation environments] as things began shutting down because of COVID-19. We thought that would be a problem, but it turned out to go very smoothly. TotalCAE went out of their way to understand what we wanted and how we wanted it configured. When the appliance showed up, we had it mounted and running jobs the next day.”

Drew Malechuk, Lead Engineer/ARA


The company’s team in Albuquerque, N.M., focuses on design analysis, prototyping and testing of air-delivered weapons systems for the U.S. Air Force. The team relies on Ansys LS-DYNA for the bulk of its simulation work. Initially, they used personal workstations to perform simulations using one or two cores. However, this PC-based approach was not sufficient for the larger problems the group was asked to solve.



ARA obtained a high-performance computing (HPC) cluster but struggled with maintaining it. IT staff had to dedicate several days per week to supporting the outdated hardware, and when there were failures, it could leave the engineering team idle while the IT staff would troubleshoot or try to find refurbished parts online.


Engineering Solution

The ARA team made a requirements list for a new computing solution that would include high reliability, white-glove service, along with automatic updates and maintenance to help ensure the team was operating as efficiently as possible. ARA’s contacts suggested they reach out to TotalCAE, a company that provides turnkey HPC appliances for simulation environments. They explained their requirements to the TotalCAE team, and the appliance was installed in the data center in the summer of 2020. TotalCAE manages the appliance and CAE applications so that ARA personnel can focus on engineering instead of IT issues.



The TotalCAE HPC appliance delivered improvements in both reliability and productivity. ARA is seeing 20% speed-up improvements in job compute times on the same number of cores. The new system has also helped with visualization. Previously, ARA purchased two visualization nodes from a different vendor but could never get them working correctly. With five highend video cards in each node, it was an expensive lesson. Now, ARA has a highend visualization node from TotalCAE that just works, and has helped improve post-processing.




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