Tools for Materials Characterization


SYMMIC in the Cloud

All SYMMIC users may take advantage of the cloud version of the product, by subscribing to xSYMMIC in the Cloud from their Amazon Web Services account.

The following guide explains how to get started using the cloud product on Amazon Web Services, in both video and written format.

Getting Started

Visit the Amazon Cloud
Direct your browser to to get started.

Sign up for Amazon Web Services
Click the Sign Up button on the AWS landing page and register for an account with your email address. Then enter your contact and payment information to verify your identity. All AWS usage fees will be charged to the credit card you provide at sign up. Finally, select the Basic Plan for free support with AWS.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud

Begin with the AWS Console
The AWS console provides access to all of the services available on the Amazon cloud, plus links to account billing and support. The console is located at

Go to the EC2 Dashboard
Computational resources for running xSYMMIC are accessed from the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). The EC2 dashboard is used to select and launch instances of computing resources for running simulations in the cloud. The EC2 dashboard can be reached by Services from the top menu bar, and then selecting EC2 under the Compute category.

Instances Page
Go to Instances to see what machines are running under your account, and to launch new instances or terminate existing ones. You are billed hourly for instances that are running, or that are stopped but not yet terminated. All billing is handled through AWS. Use the Launch Instance button to start the Launch Wizard.

About Instance Types

Amazon classifies instance types as general purpose (e.g. m4 and m5), memory-optimized (e.g. r4 and x1) and compute-optimized (e.g. c4 and c5). The correct choice of EC2 instance type may significantly speed up simulations in the cloud compared to desktop simulations. In the following table, cloud instances are compared to a desktop workstation for steady-state solution of the FETbig.xml device with 1.8 million nodes. All cases were run from the SYMMIC GUI using Remote Run at random times during the workday. Solve time (in seconds) is the duration reported by the xSYMMIC solver on the cloud instance. Wall time (in seconds) is from Remote Run on the desktop until the dialog reports the solution has been downloaded. The solution file was 106 Mbytes in size.

Performance of xSYMMIC in the Cloud Version 3.0.0

Compute Location Instance Type Processor Cores RAM(Gb) Spot($/hr) Solve(s) Wall Time(s)
AWS us-east (N. VA) r4.large Xeon E5-2686v4 2.3 GHz 1 15 0.04 167 180
AWS us-east (N. VA) r4.xlarge Xeon E5-2686v4 2.3 GHz 2 30 0.08 94.2 106
Desktop (Natick, MA) -- Xeon E5-1620 3.6 GHz 4 32 -- 92.4 95
AWS us-east (N. VA) m4.2xlarge Xeon E5-2686v4 2.3 GHz 4 32 0.13 56 68
AWS us-east (N. VA) m5.2xlarge Xeon Platinum 8175 2.3 GHz 4 32 0.14 42.8 58
AWS us-east (N. VA) r4.2xlarge Xeon E5-2686v4 2.3 GHz 4 64 0.15 56.7 72
AWS us-east (N. VA) c4.2xlarge Xeon E5-2666v3 2.9 GHz 4 15 0.13 48.7 62
AWS us-east (N. VA) c5.2xlarge Xeon Platinum 8124 3 GHz 4 16 0.16 48 58
AWS us-east (N. VA) r4.8xlarge Xeon E5-2686v4 2.3 GHz 16 244 0.65 28.3 42
AWS us-east (N. VA) c4.8xlarge Xeon E5-2666v3 2.9 GHz 18 60 0.55 26.3 40
AWS us-east (N. VA) c5.9xlarge Xeon Platinum 8124 3 GHz 18 72 0.55 23.7 36
AWS us-east (N. VA) m4.10xlarge Xeon E5-2686v4 2.3 GHz 20 160 '2 30.1 43
AWS us-east (N. VA) m4.16xlarge Xeon E5-2686v4 2.3 GHz 32 256 '3.2 28.6 43
AWS us-east (N. VA) r4.16xlarge Xeon E5-2686v4 2.3 GHz 32 488 1 27.3 42
AWS us-east (N. VA) x1.16xlarge Xeon E7-8880v3 2.3 GHz 32 976 2 31.5 42
AWS us-east (N. VA) m5.24xlarge Xeon Platinum 8175 2.3 GHz 48 384 '4.6 20.5 33
'On demand pricing was used because spot pricing was not available at the time for these instances.

EC2 Launch Wizard

Step 1: Choose Amazon Machine Image
To get the AMI for xSYMMIC in the Cloud in the Launch Wizard, select the AWS Marketplace from the left-hand menu. In the search box type "xSYMMIC" to find the AMI, then press the Select button next to it. This machine image comes with xSYMMIC already installed and licensed for cloud use. An additional ten cents per hour will be added to the price of your instance for the use of this AMI.

Step 2: Choose Instance Type
Select the desired machine-type, paying particular attention to the amount of RAM needed for the simulation and the number of CPUs. (The listed value is twice the number of physical cores.) In general, more CPUs will give better performance and incur higher costs. For pricing information see the Pricing link on the right side of the EC2 dashboard. For more performance information see the discussion of Instance Types above.

Step 3: Configure Instance Details
For lower pricing, try checking the Request Spot instances Purchasing option. If surplus capacity is available, the page will then show availability zones and spot rates. Otherwise, uncheck the box to receive on-demand pricing. Make sure the Auto-assign Public IP option is enabled, since the public IP address is needed to communicate with the instance from Remote Run in SYMMIC.
Step 4: Add Storage
The default storage option, typically 8 GB of general purpose SSD, should be adequate for most simulation runs.
Step 5: Add Tags
Skip this step.
Step 6: Configure Security Group
Create a new security group with TCP input port 22 open for SSH administration. For the source, chose My IP to allow only the desktop to access the instance. Leave output ports open (the default) to allow the instance to access the license server.

Step 7: Review Instance Launch
Hitting the Launch button from the review page will open the Key Pair dialog.
Create Encryption Keys
The final step is to create a key pair for secure commincations with the instance. Save the private key file. The instance will be booted with the matching public key already installed. Use the private key file in the Remote Run dialog to authenticate SSH communications with the instance once it is running.

Run SYMMIC in the Cloud

Use the Remote Run Dialog
From the SYMMIC application on the desktop, open the Remote Run dialog. Enter the public IP address of the instance in the dialog. The Public IP is shown on the Instance page in the EC2 Dashboard. If no Public IP is displayed when the instance is running, then it was not launched with the Auto-assign Public IP option enabled, so terminate it and start over. In the Remote Run dialog, enter ec2-user for the username and leave the working directory blank. In the Private key file box, enter the filename of the private key from the last step in the AWS Launch Wizard. Click the Connect button and accept the fingerprint. (Copy the fingerprint to the Fingerprint edit box to prevent this challenge in the future.) Then use the Launch button to upload the files, run the simulation, and download the results. The progress will be reported at the bottom of the Remote Run dialog.