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Old   August 15, 2011, 18:06
Default OpenFOAM acquired by SGi
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Dear all.

I've noticed that OpenCFD has been acquired by SGi.

http://www.sgi.com/company_info/news...t/opencfd.html

would you please comment what will likley be the impacts of this on the future of OpenFOAM?

thanking in advance

best regards.
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Old   August 15, 2011, 20:39
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I always considered CFD Online as one of the main forums regarding OpenFOAM. To not see an official announcement here is odd. Therefore, I gather that SGI and OpenCFD are not really in touch with their user base. This does not bode well.
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Old   August 15, 2011, 20:47
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I just sent SGI a message concerning that lack of notification on this web site. Lets see how long it takes for them to respond, assuming they respond at all.
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Old   August 15, 2011, 20:51
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Greetings to all,

I guess I'll have to start off with the disclaimer that I'm in no way associated to OpenCFD nor SGI, nor should the following post should not be interpreted as professional views on this subject.
Now, on with my points of view



Holy... no wonder the bug report side and the repos weren't doing much in the last few days since 2.0.1 was released... and I thought they would be on vacation... apparently they were in transition mode!
But this is sort-of weird... a couple of weeks ago, two forum users were having problems with building OpenFOAM on their SGI supercomputers...

OK, breaking down the news, the breadcrumbs are as follows:
  • FAQ: http://www.openfoam.com/faq/ - the paid support side will remain the same, with added benefits... well, at least in experience and technological portfolio.
  • OpenFOAM Foundation is now operational: http://www.openfoam.org/ - this is something that Prof. H. Jasak was pushing for... or at least is what I deduce from his presentation from a while back.
  • The OpenFOAM(R) trademark is going to continue to be OpenCFD's... at least in the short term... I can't find any info on the long term... probably it will be SGI's sooner or later...
  • Summing up what has been written at www.openfoam.com in the past and present, I think things will go along pretty much the same way as always...

Some theories (without going into conspiracy theories ):
  • ( ex-)OpenCFD should now have easier and extended access to various different hardware's, virtualization technologies (i.e., Linux on Windows or even bare-metal Linux) and whole lot more funding...
  • This should expedite some new developments on OpenFOAM, like GP-GPU and RISC-like processors being officially supported. This would improve SGI's ability to sell über-clusters...
  • (@Martin Hegedus) OpenCFD's drifting away from the community around OpenFOAM for the last couple of years or so could be considered as indicative that they consider the community to be already mature enough to hold on its own.
  • The newly formed OpenFOAM(R) Foundation gives out a vibe of still being defined as to what it will really do. One reason I say this is because I can't find the whole list of the people on the Board of Directors...
  • The new foundation seems to be more oriented to providing a gateway to the social coding provided at the OpenFOAM repositories in GitHub. Of course a lingering problem will be: who will officially take care of gathering the various contributions into a single repository... will it be the foundation or will it be the contributors themselves...
  • I can only assume that the foundation should set better rules for forking, branching and contributions... but probably the current rules will still apply.

But this paragraph sort-of hits a nerve on the news release:
Quote:
Originally Posted by http://www.sgi.com/company_info/newsroom/press_releases/2011/august/opencfd.html
The company invites every scientist, developer, engineer and student working in the field of CFD to join the OpenFoam community, download the software for a test drive and to make their own contributions.
As most news reports around the world, it lacks specific information... such as: "make their own contributions" to where and/or to whom?
Oh well, same old, same old This is what the Internet is for I can only assume that GitHub's social coding is what they had in mind...

Best regards,
Bruno
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Old   August 15, 2011, 21:29
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I live in the Silicon valley, close to SGI corporate headquarters and NASA Ames. A big part of SGI business is HPC to DoD, NASA, etc. SGI also gets other types of funding from the US government and I doubt SGI can survive without it. CFD codes such as OVERFLOW, CFL3D, COBALT, etc. run on them. When SGI creates a supercomputer such as Pleiades http://www.nas.nasa.gov/hecc/resources/pleiades.html for NASA they work very closely with NASA to get NASA's codes running on it (compilers, debugging, etc.). SGI explicitly knows the coding details. SGI may not be able to add coding to OpenFOAM in a meaningful way due to U.S. government export restrictions (ITAR, etc.) Frankly, the last thing DoD, DoE, or NASA wants is details of their codes leaking out somehow. I doubt Henry Weller and company will be allowed to take OpenFOAM to the next level. I love this statement from Mr. Weller "The open source model provides customers with the code transparency and the full view into the inner workings of the software they need to have confidence in the results, particularly when they perform safety calculations for projects such as nuclear reactors or aircraft design." LOL, nuclear reactors and aircraft design? Sorry, I don't think so.
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Old   August 15, 2011, 21:49
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As another data point, I am writing a small CFD program for education use, etc., called AeroTroll CFD (www.hegedusaero.com/software). I was explicitly told by the US State Department that I need to get a Commodity Jurisdiction (CJ) to distribute my code overseas. And SGI is a US company. So the same rules apply to them.

I guess time will tell.
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Old   August 15, 2011, 21:51
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OK, then I'll a touch of salt of conspiracy theory:
  • There are some breadcrumbs (in the git repos) that indicate that the current OpenFOAM 2.0 version is actually a direct descendent of 1.5 or 1.4, with 1.6 and 1.7 being parallel releases. I say this because some relics that were already dumped in 1.6, came back in 2.0. Additionally, while the git repo of 1.7.x has history tracking back to 1.6.0, the 2.0.x starts without past history.
  • The new features in Star-CCM+ 6.04, parallel meshing with feature edges and so on, are also bleeding-edge features on OpenFOAM 2.0! And the release dates aren't very much far apart.
Now, legally there is no problem here, because the new features in Star-CCM+ might have had some help from OpenCFD and vice-versa. And the parallel development of releases is also part of the nature of software development.

So, core developments such as GP-GPU support and adding code that uses algorithms already published in one way or another, that will also not break the other legal bindings... well, this is probably business as usual. Or at least I hope so!
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Old   August 15, 2011, 22:04
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Hegedus View Post
I just sent SGI a message concerning that lack of notification on this web site. Lets see how long it takes for them to respond, assuming they respond at all.
Hello, we have indeed seen this post. The press release went out to a number of wire services around the world, and we appreciate the user who posted it here.

We also welcome (and will read) your posts concerning OpenFOAM, and will engage in these CFD Online forum discussions going forward.

With regards to the OpenFOAM community,

Ron May
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Old   August 15, 2011, 22:13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wyldckat View Post
OK, then I'll a touch of salt of conspiracy theory:
Maybe. Lets hope so (edit, oops I should have written "Lets hope not". Bad grammar and in a rush. Sorry). But the fact is that if one cent of DoD money goes into this effort there is a very good chance it will be restricted.

For example, there is Chimera Grid Tools. http://people.nas.nasa.gov/~wchan/cgt/doc/man.html Seriously, there is no special technology in it. In fact NASA Ames would probably benefit if it was made open source. But it is restricted because DoD put a little funding into it. There is SUGGAR and DIRTLib. Again not exactly cutting edge technology. In fact the juicy parts probably comes from the computer graphics/movie industry. I know my overset technology does. Yet it is restricted because DoD put some funding into it.

OK, in the end, I'm a US citizen and I'll have access to the SGI version (edit: if it becomes restricted) of OpenFOAM if I want. So it is not really rocking my boat.

So, it is what it is.

Last edited by Martin Hegedus; August 15, 2011 at 23:47. Reason: Want to correct "Lets hope so" to "Lets hope not"
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Old   August 15, 2011, 22:46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmay View Post
Hello, we have indeed seen this post. The press release went out to a number of wire services around the world, and we appreciate the user who posted it here.

We also welcome (and will read) your posts concerning OpenFOAM, and will engage in these CFD Online forum discussions going forward.

With regards to the OpenFOAM community,

Ron May
SGI
My question is whether SGI has something in place to keep the US government operations and OpenFOAM development work separate? Also, did SGI get a CJ to distribute OpenFOAM? The statement by Henry Weller concerning Reactors and aircraft is a red flag. Where did he get that idea from?

It is stated under Item 16 Category II of the ITAR regulations,

"Specially designed software, or specially designed software with related specially designed hybrid (combined analog/digital) computers, for modeling, simulation, or design integration of the systems in Item 1 and Item 2 (see 121.1, Category IV(i) and Category XI(a)(6))."

"Note to Item 16

The modelling includes in particular the aerodynamic and thermodynamic analysis of the system."

I personally was never able to get the State Department to define to me "specially designed software". Note: ITAR does not say "software specially designed for"

Also note that duel use does not apply to ITAR. Regardless of what lawyers say. If a code can be used to design missiles, fighter aircraft, or launch vehicles, ITAR applies to it. Technically I don't think OpenFOAM falls under ITAR if it is distributed freely. Freedom of speech protects it. Also, ITAR makes exception to freely distributed technical data. However, I seriously doubt SGI is going to fight that battle with one of it's major costumers.
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Old   August 16, 2011, 00:53
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The creation of the OpenFOAM foundation is a positive and welcome fact, in my opinion. How it will evolve is still unclear, but I don't think it is correct, at this point to evaluate and speculate without knowing more about it.

I would invite members of the community to wait and see what happens, before starting a thread on all the possible negative outcomes. This kind of attitude just "poisons the air".

Some of us hoped in an OpenFOAM foundation for a long time, and this seems to be a good opportunity. Clearly, everything depends upon the conditions contributors will have to follow. It would be nice have clear requirements on how the copyright on contributions will be managed, for example. Will contributors have to transfer it? Or will it be kept by contributors? These are defining questions, I believe, and it is likely it will take some time to figure out these aspects (based on experience in other projects). Of course having a community that does not jump to the worst possible conclusion also helps a lot and keeps "the other side" motivated too.

Best,
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Old   August 16, 2011, 01:00
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Hegedus View Post
My question is whether SGI has something in place to keep the US government operations and OpenFOAM development work separate? Also, did SGI get a CJ to distribute OpenFOAM? The statement by Henry Weller concerning Reactors and aircraft is a red flag. Where did he get that idea from?
From the literature? If you do a literature search, you can easily figure out that behind the study of nuclear reactor safety there are very standard algorithms, the basis of which are already part of OpenFOAM. The details (currently not available in OF) are well documented in the open literature, and a google search will give you access to the technical reports of specific codes like COBRA, RELAP, NEPTUNE and others.
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Old   August 16, 2011, 01:12
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First of all, thank for your input so far.

I'd Just like to add that i'm not necessarily scared by the future of openfoam. In fact, for the little i've understood, it might be the turning point to get more in touch with the community and reduce the need of the various forks, centralizing the "good" part of code developed by this astonishing community, smoothing out the learning curve, etc...

at lest this is what i hope for
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Old   August 16, 2011, 03:44
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From the literature? If you do a literature search, you can easily figure out that behind the study of nuclear reactor safety there are very standard algorithms, the basis of which are already part of OpenFOAM. The details (currently not available in OF) are well documented in the open literature, and a google search will give you access to the technical reports of specific codes like COBRA, RELAP, NEPTUNE and others.
OK, so your point is that I do not have a bases for being concerned. Let's hope you are right.

http://www.pmddtc.state.gov/complian...gingLetter.pdf
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Old   August 16, 2011, 04:06
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I got this from the RELAP web site.

"RELAP5-3D is subject to export controls. Membership in IRUG by non-U.S. citizens or organizations must have prior approval from the United States Department of Energy."

and

"The INL does not intend to propose restrictions on the commercial use of RELAP5-3D by IRUG organizations, although export control restrictions may limit or preclude the use of the code for certain countries, agencies, or companies. However, the commercial use will not extend to providing the code or modified versions to third parties without prior arrangement with the INL."

Or am I miss understanding something?
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Old   August 16, 2011, 04:23
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Hi,

I think we should follow the money!
One really big customer for many in the OF-ecosystem is Volkswagen and it`s brands (Audi, Seat ...). The question is will Volkswagen continue to be customer under such a new condition. An alternative is OF-extend?!?
Another potential big customer might be the the US Army/Navy.
Some money from the US Navy goes to Penn State's Applied Research Lab or to other Labs.
Does OpenCFD have the the chance to get government money

Not to forget the EU!
I think many in the OF-ecosystem are interested to get EU-Funding
and I heard that OpenCFD has a not very small project with some german companies co-funded by EU. Are EU fundings in danger under new conditions.

I will add some consiracy :-) as well.
it is a strike against PRACE (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe) http://www.prace-ri.eu
=> the European Petaflop project
Some Computer are delivered by Cray =>Cray XE6 systems will be installed at Gauss Centre for Supercomputing (GCS) & HLRS (High Performance Center of University Stuttgart)
and OF is some Software (as well as Code Aster) to run on this machines.

Last edited by elvis; August 16, 2011 at 10:35.
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Old   August 16, 2011, 04:30
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Hi,

I think we should follow the money!
...
Another potential big customer might be the the US Army/Navy.
Some money from the US Navy goes to Penn State's Applied Research Lab or to other Labs.
...
That's my point. Suggar and DiRTlib, http://www.outreach.psu.edu/programs...oack-ralph.pdf, come from Penn State's Applied Research Lab, were funded by DoD, and the libraries are restricted.
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Old   August 16, 2011, 06:23
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I got this from the RELAP web site.

"RELAP5-3D is subject to export controls. Membership in IRUG by non-U.S. citizens or organizations must have prior approval from the United States Department of Energy."

and

"The INL does not intend to propose restrictions on the commercial use of RELAP5-3D by IRUG organizations, although export control restrictions may limit or preclude the use of the code for certain countries, agencies, or companies. However, the commercial use will not extend to providing the code or modified versions to third parties without prior arrangement with the INL."

Or am I miss understanding something?
Export restrictions apply to a variety of specific applications. My point is that, yes, you might not have "reactorSafetyFoam" made directly available to you in the OpenFOAM release. This does not mean you do not have the building blocks in it, and that's the whole point about having a CFD toolbox.

In the specific case, what RELAP does is to solve the multiphase Euler equations, with heat and mass transfer. It is available in at least two of the largest commercial codes. Of course some addition might be required, but the largest part of what you need is there ;-)

Best,
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Old   August 16, 2011, 11:32
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Export restrictions apply to a variety of specific applications. My point is that, yes, you might not have "reactorSafetyFoam" made directly available to you in the OpenFOAM release. This does not mean you do not have the building blocks in it, and that's the whole point about having a CFD toolbox.

In the specific case, what RELAP does is to solve the multiphase Euler equations, with heat and mass transfer. It is available in at least two of the largest commercial codes. Of course some addition might be required, but the largest part of what you need is there ;-)

Best,
OK, I understand all this.

But does the OpenFOAM community have an expectation that SGI, and the employees of SGI under their own time, will be providing unrestricted research, development, and V&V resources into OpenFOAM? And at the same time those employees will be doing work for the US Government?

If the stories I heard were correct, CFD Research, http://www.cfdrc.com/, was, umm, "influenced" by the State Department to separate their consulting and CFD R&D sides. http://www.cfdrc.com/news/84-cfdrc-a...sion-spin-off- I'll let the lawyers at SGI dig into this more if they want.

This is what the SGI site says:

"In addition to providing free downloads of OpenFOAM source code from the SGI-sponsored OpenFOAM foundation's openfoam.org web site, SGI will offer:
  • A fee-based OpenFOAM support subscription to help customers implement and run OpenFoam in their environments.
  • A fee-based, fully supported SGI OpenFOAM distribution, including SGI message passing interface (MPI). SGI® OpenFOAM® and SGI® MPI work together to provide the best performance possible.
  • Training and professional services for complex CFD deployments on SGI and in other environments.
For companies that would like to start using SGI OpenFOAM today, the full capability is available via the SGI® Cyclone cloud offering."

I'm sorry, the dots just don't connect well for me. Unless SGI wants to create a complete separate entity to do this. Or, the idea is for the open source community, without R&D effort from SGI, to fully support OpenFOAM. However, that level of vibrancy does not seem to exist. A case in point is trying to find good detailed descriptions, and use cases, for the various OpenFOAM solvers. One can not find this information at the OpenFOAM wiki http://openfoamwiki.net/index.php/Main_Page.
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Old   August 16, 2011, 13:13
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I've always been concerned that OpenCFD's business model has inherent pressure against the user community: if you are funded by training and supporting users, then when users help other users, it undermines your potential sales. Therefore, you will want to reduce the resources available to the community.

I've always believed this to be the reason there isn't very good documentation out there - note especially the fact that OpenCFD shut down extend's documentation project.

-Dave
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