Insights from industry

Developing the Future of Computer-Aided Engineering

Please give us an introduction to OnScale.

OnScale is the world's first Cloud Engineering Simulation platform. We combine proprietary, military-grade multiphysics solvers with Cloud Supercomputers powered by AWS. OnScale is an on-demand, massively scalable simulation platform that enables engineers to run extensive simulations (billions of degrees of freedom) and/or huge sweeps of simulations (millions of simulations).

Ultimately, OnScale helps MEMS and Semi companies (and many other R&D heavy businesses) reduce cost, risk, and time-to-market by shifting from expensive, time-consuming physical prototyping processes (prevalent today in the MEMS world), to quick, cost-effective Digital Prototyping and Digital Qualification processes.

Why did you attend the MEMS & Imaging Sensors Summit this year?

It's a great event! I've attended a few times in the past. My background is in MEMS design (I was the founder/CEO of NextInput, a MEMS ForceTouch, and a 3D Touch company in Silicon Valley).

I like working with MEMS engineers because they have some of the most complex, interdisciplinary engineering challenges. / Shutterstock

How do OnScale's solutions improve on legacy CAE offerings?

Our solutions provide improvements in two ways. First, our Cloud Simulation capabilities far exceed legacy desktop simulation capabilities. We can solve simulation problems that our competitors can't touch (for example, a full 3D, multi-resonator RF MEMS filter digital prototype).

Secondly, we charge for our Cloud Simulation platform on a pure pay-as-you-simulate model. There are no licenses, and engineers pay only for simulation time while simulations run quickly on cloud supercomputers. There is no charge for pre and post-processing.

How will the solutions provided by OnScale develop the future of Computer-Aided Engineering?

The future of engineering is to use cloud supercomputers. Designs for things like MEMS devices are getting ever more complicated, with more stringent performance and reliability requirements. Meanwhile, design cycles are being drastically reduced from years to months.

Cloud simulation is a step-change in engineering capabilities, and I think engineers will look back on this period - the dawn of the Cloud Simulation age - just as we look fondly back on the transition from a pocket calculator to a PC in the '80s.

Imagine giving a modern engineer trained on desktop simulation a calculator to use for engineering work - they would quit! The same thing will happen in a few years when engineers are asked to use legacy desktop simulation instead of Cloud Simulation.

What are the unique challenges of simulating wave propagation through heterogeneous materials?

Elastic wave propagation is a fascinating physical phenomenon that requires advanced materials models and "perfectly" matched layer (PML) boundary conditions. Engineers that are designing things like ultrasonic fingerprint sensors that broadcast ultrasound (elastic wave propagation) through many layers of a touch-display stack up in a smartphone need highly accurate results that capture all of the reflection and refraction of waves through heterogeneous materials.

Compounding the challenge are the variances in geometry (usually thickness) and material properties of the various layers - some of which have viscoelastic behavior (e.g., double-sided tapes commonly used in consumer electronics manufacturing).

The only way to make systems like this work is to simulate all of the millions of possible permutations of stack up geometries and material properties that one would see in mass production. OnScale provides this capability of running millions of parametric simulations in parallel on our Cloud Simulation platform. The resulting datasets are ideal for calibration and compensation algorithm development and AI/ML training sets.

How do OnScale's solutions enable the investigation and analysis of ultrasonic measurement systems?

Similar to the above scenario - the ability to quickly parameterize simulation studies and run hundreds, thousands, or even millions of simulations in parallel quickly on our Cloud Simulation platform, engineers can examine at all possible permutations of a system before they enter mass production.

With OnScale, everything is a parameter that can be varied - geometries, material properties, boundary conditions, loads, etc. It is the ideal way to simulate the physical world before investing in tooling, mass production, engineering validation, and qualification of a new product like an ultrasonic measurement system or a MEMS device.

How does digital prototyping benefit new MEMS and sensor products?

For years, I've heard that VCs won't invest in new MEMS companies due to the capital requirements involved - years of R&D and millions of investor capital to achieve viable designs (or not, more often). Digital Prototypes massively reduce the time, risk, and cost of traditional physical prototyping.

I look forward to the new wave of innovation in flexible MEMS, biomems, microfluidics, piezo MEMS, etc., that will be enabled by Digital Prototypes. I think, very soon, a startup will raise money from a VC not by showing a viable benchtop prototype, but by showing a complete digital prototype developed with OnScale that works the first time it's fabbed.

What makes OnScale and its technologies unique?

OnScale's technology, team, business model, and general philosophy on the Future of Engineering makes us very unique. We're out to disrupt a crusty, slow-moving industry (CAE) dominated by dinosaurs like Dassault, Ansuys, etc., that can't move fast enough to take advantage of the latest and greatest cloud tech.

We are a scrappy team of engineers, numerical scientists, and cloud gurus that is out to shake up the $10 billion engineering simulation market because, if we don't, who will?

About Ian Campbell

Ian Campbell is a twice venture-backed Silicon Valley CEO and expert in MEMS sensors, semiconductor technology, and engineering software.

Most recently, Ian co-founded OnScale, a Cloud Engineering Simulation startup backed by Intel Capital and Google’s Gradient Ventures. OnScale is revolutionizing engineering by combining world-class multiphysics solvers with Cloud supercomputers, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

Prior to co-founding OnScale, Campbell served as founder and CEO of NextInput. Here, he led the startup through multiple rounds of funding – totaling $12 million, and an additional $4 million in research contracts with government and industry partners – and built a world-class team of engineers and scientists. This team developed 3D Touch and ForceTouch technologies for smartphones, wearables, industrial, and automotive interface applications.

He also secured the first significant smartphone OEM design wins in Asia. Campbell earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Middle Tennessee State University, and his MSAE in aerospace engineering and MBA from Georgia Institute of Technology.

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