Dec. 2010 EDA Focus: COMSOL V4.1 Focuses on Productivity

COMSOL unveiled a pre-release of its market-leading multiphysics modeling and simulation environment, COMSOL Multiphysics version 4.1 at its recent COMSOL Conference held this past October in Boston. Evaluation licenses were distributed to attendees and members of the media present at the sixth annual COMSOL Conference. Productivity stands out as the major theme in version 4.1. This new release builds on the breakthroughs in usability introduced in all-new version 4 architecture and offers dozens of practical features that make the modeling and simulation process more productive.

Modeling setup intuitive to manage

Major updates to the interactive, tree-structured Model Builder in version 4.1 make the modeling process more intuitive to manage. Of particular note, users can now copy and paste nodes within the Model Builder – a huge time-savings that avoids repeated sequences of commands. Now with a single click of a button, users can duplicate selected nodes as functions, geometry selections, plot settings and visualization effects, or they can use duplicated nodes to create new images, to study the steps that control solver settings and analysis type, or prepare data for export. Additionally, the Model Builder and Settings window offers new Undo/Redo functionality for added convenience in operating the software.

Faster simulation results

Several new capabilities in version 4.1 boost productivity by delivering accurate simulation results more quickly than ever before. The all-new physics-controlled meshing enables users to let the software do the time-consuming mesh-creation process. Currently implemented in the CFD and Plasma physics interfaces COMSOL now automatically specifies the mesh based on the physics in the model. For example, the fluid flow interfaces use this feature to create a fine mesh throughout the flow region while simultaneously creating boundary layer meshes on no-slip boundaries. The resulting mesh has the added benefit of being optimized for accuracy, delivering precision to fluid flow applications.

COMSOL’s new physics-controlled meshing adapts the mesh density and element type to the current physics settings. The picture shows an auto-generated mesh that is optimized for a CFD simulation with a mix of prism (gray), hexahedral (cyan) and pyramid (red) elements. The rest of the domain (not shown here) is filled with tetrahedral elements.

COMSOL Multiphysics version 4.1 also introduces robust simulation job management tools. The automatic save and recovery of models during solver operations ensures that an interrupted simulation job can be recovered. COMSOL stores simulation data on file throughout the computation of the solution. In case of a power outage or any other unpredictable event, the data can be reloaded and simulation can continue from the point it was stopped. This is extremely reassuring to users running large models where the simulation can last days. Also, at any time during a simulation, users can pause and continue jobs easily.

In keeping with its tradition of transparency, COMSOL 4.1 also features display of equations for physics interfaces so that users always know precisely which mathematical model their simulation is running. Geometry creation tools also add a mathematical bend by allowing for parametric definitions of curves. Any profile can be swept along a parametric curve.

Radar cross section visualized with a polar plot within the COMSOL Desktop

Practical tools make simulation results readily understandable

Version 4.1 introduces a suite of new practical tools that make simulation results easier to understand more quickly. Time-dependent simulations can now be analyzed using frequency-domain transformation using FFT for computing frequency spectra from. Polar plots have been added to display graphs in polar coordinates specified by radius and angle – a feature is commonly used to present the radiation pattern from antennas. Users will also benefit from predefined operations for computing the maximum, minimum, average, or integral of the values of a quantity in a point over time for a time-dependent model.

“The handling of simulation results has also taken a step forward with this release. Transient models in particular will benefit from the max, min, and average time-series operations as well as the fast Fourier transform to the frequency domain. So from beginning to end this is a release that enhances productivity,” concludes COMSOL’s Sjodin.

Version 4.1 Highlights

• Quick model set up with Copy/Paste and duplication of selected nodes in the Model Tree; for example, functions, selections, study steps, plot groups and plots, and images and data for export

• Undo/Redo of operations in the Model Builder and the Settings window

• Automatic save and recovery of models during solver operations

• Up-front display of equations in physics interfaces, giving insight into the specific mathematical model being solved

• Expanded CAD tool now includes 3D helix predefined geometric primitive

• Parametric curves in 2D and 3D

• Geometry sweep in 3D based on parametric curves

• Automatic high-fidelity meshing through physics-controlled mesh settings for the CFD and plasma physics interfaces

• Resume interrupted solvers by right-clicking on the study or solver and selecting Continue

• Polar plots that display graphs in polar coordinates specified by radius and angle

• Contour labels for a clear presentation of contour plots

• The AC/DC Module now offers electric currents in porous media

• The Batteries and Fuel Cells Module has a new physics interface for lead acid battery modeling

• The CFD Module now comes with a new Spalart-Allmaras turbulence model

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