Chalker said software vendors are interested in working with AweSim because it's a way to get to a market that's inaccessible today. The vendors could get some licensing fees for an app and a potential customer for larger, more expensive apps in the future.
AweSim is an outgrowth of the Blue Collar Computing initiative that started at OSC in the mid-2000s with goals similar to AweSim's. But that program required that users purchase a lot of costly consulting work. The app store's approach is to minimize cost, and the need for consulting help, as much as possible.
Chalker has a half dozen apps already built, including one used in the truck example. The OSC is building a software development kit to make it possible for others to build them as well. One goal is to eventually enable other supercomputing centers to provide compute capacity for the apps.
AweSim will charge users a fixed rate for CPUs, covering just the costs, and will provide consulting expertise where it is needed. Consulting fees may raise the bill for users, but Chalker said it usually wouldn't be more than a few thousand dollars, a lot less than hiring a full-time computer scientist.
The AweSim team expects that many app users, a mechanical engineer for instance, will know enough to work with an app without the help of a computational fluid dynamics expert.
Lange says that manufacturers understand that producing domestically rather than overseas requires making products better, being innovative and not wasting resources. "You have to be committed to innovate what you make, and you have to commit to innovating how you make it," said Lange, who sees HPC as a path to get there.
Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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