Azure Modeling and Simulation Workbench now in public preview

Mujtaba Hamid

Prashant Varshney

Mujtaba Hamid, GM Product Management, Strategic Missions & Technologies, Microsoft

Prashant Varshney, Head of Product, Azure MSWB, Strategic Missions & Technologies, Microsoft

Designing a silicon chip, an aircraft engine, an autonomous system, running sub-surface simulation for oil drilling, and other complex engineering systems are processes that typically include thousands of functions to verify, complex system interactions to optimize and multiphysics simulations to validate manufacturability. The need for close collaboration of developers from different disciplines, software and IP partners and other ecosystem partners often requires sharing some of an organization’s most valuable data and IP in way that ensures data and IP remain secure throughout the design process.

Existing approaches to this challenge can be labor intensive, expensive, and bespoke. That is why today, we are launching the public preview of Azure Modeling and Simulation Workbench (MSWB), a fully managed engineering environment that enables secure user collaboration while protecting data and IP via multi-layered security and access control solution. This cloud-based platform enables:

  • Automated deployment of scalable compute and storage so complex simulations can run faster and more efficiently with automated deployments of resources targeting specific workloads, improving productivity.
  • Secure collaboration so that different divisions of a company or different organizations can work on the same project with confidence in data security and privacy. Project owners control what is shared and with whom it is shared. For shared data, project owners have access to data governance and traceability tools to manage how data is used.
  • Cost optimization with Azure MSWB’s on-demand pricing model, so project teams only pay for the resources used. By deploying and releasing resources on demand, engineering teams enjoy the benefits of a world-class on demand scalable & reusable, design, and simulation environment.
  • Integrated cloud innovation with access to numerous Azure services including Azure OpenAI Service, Azure Data Lake, and Azure Machine Learning enabling projects teams to utilize cutting-edge technology and stay ahead of the curve.

How Azure MSWB works

Built as a fully managed platform-as-a-service (PaaS), project teams can now deploy infrastructure optimized for engineering design and simulation almost instantaneously, while scaling and archiving as needed – all in the cloud. Secure chambers provide a private work environment and complete project execution frameworks for each co-working team. Innovations on data management like data partitions, a pipeline for import/export, and export approval processes keep the data protected within the chambers. With Azure MSWB, project contributors across an organization or ecosystem can be invited to collaborate in a monitored environment, with built-in traceability of all activity and controlled access of users and data. Identity management techniques like cross-tenant Microsoft Entra ID identities, single sign on, multi-factor authentication and role-based access controls allow each team to securely share their selected data across chambers. All these capabilities come together to ensure project teams can maximize throughput on their design iterations, simulations, and testing, thereby reducing time to market, improving productivity and delivering higher quality products.

Image 24022 MSFT GIS MSWB Event Social 1920x1080 Green

Figure 1 Secure, isolated chambers enable cross organization and ecosystem collaboration without risk

Early customers and partner adoption demonstrating value

Customers are already benefiting as they use Azure MSWB for a variety of applications including silicon design/electronic design automation (EDA), large scale simulations, system design, and model-based engineering.

Silicon design is one example as a demanding, highly complex, collaborative research and development (R&D) and engineering process. Besides high-performance infrastructure, it requires the use of intellectual property (IP) and tools from diverse sources and collaboration with EDA vendors, IP providers, foundries, and customers, making data and IP protection imperative. With Azure MSWB, projects can leverage built-in security, data protection, automation, ease of use, and cost-optimization for high-demand, and scale-out scenarios to transform the traditional on-premises approach to chip design.

“The Azure Modeling and Simulation Workbench helped us meet our design tape-out dates by deploying a tailored cluster of hardware to accelerate our design simulations in hours. Normally, the addition of new hardware on-premises can take months. Access to Azure’s performant compute enabled three times faster runtimes, ultimately ensuring we met our aggressive schedule. Additionally, it enabled new third-party collaboration models which is challenging to do in an on-premise environment.” — James Li, Sr. Director of BAE Systems’ Microelectronics organization

Synopsys, our industry partner for cloud innovation in the semiconductor industry, has collaborated on Azure MSWB to bring further value to our mutual customers.

“Azure Modeling and Simulation Workbench simplifies building self-hosted environments in the cloud. Synopsys worked with Microsoft to enable our cloud-friendly FlexEDA licensing model within Azure MSWB through a Synopsys Cloud reference architecture, which provides our bring your own cloud (BYOC) customers faster time to value through complete license management automation and seamless collaboration. The Azure MSWB deployment complements our extensive Synopsys Cloud SaaS portfolio on Azure and helps our customers scale their usage of Synopsys tools in the cloud.” — Sanjay Bali, Vice President of Strategy and Product Management for the EDA Group at Synopsys

Siemens EDA has closely partnered with Microsoft in demonstrating scalability of various EDA tools on the MSWB platform.

“Siemens EDA has successfully demonstrated key workloads in the Microsoft Modeling and Simulation Workbench, including variation-aware SPICE verification using Siemens’ Solido™ Design Environment and Analog FastSPICE (AFS) platform, as well as the industry-leading Calibre® nmPlatform for sign-off. Running on the Azure MSWB platform, Calibre demonstrated exceptional performance and enabled more resources than are typically available on-premesis. Siemens and Microsoft are working to utilize Azure MSWB as a flexible and secure design environment for customers to collaborate with critical suppliers, vendors, and partners. This collaboration holds the potential for enhanced productivity and faster time to tapeout, all of which can leave teams more time to focus on the most complex challenges and designs.” — Craig Johnson, Vice President of Cloud Solutions at Siemens EDA

Azure MSWB is improving designer productivity within Microsoft’s own internal silicon organization.  Microsoft’s design methodology and infrastructure team led by Silvian Goldenberg, General Manager, has found that by utilizing Azure MSWB designers can easily create and manage new scalable Azure infrastructure instances that are tailored for complex silicon engineering workloads. Using this service, the teams can securely collaborate on tool debug, optimization, and benchmarking with their EDA, IP, and design service partners.

Platform for stringent security and protection

Azure MSWB forms the foundation of the platform Microsoft implemented for the US Department of Defense (DoD) under the Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes (RAMP) Program. RAMP Phase II concluded in August 2023, successfully demonstrating platform capabilities through multiple silicon design tapeouts. The DoD originally awarded RAMP in September 2020 through the Strategic & Spectrum Missions Advanced Resilient Trusted Systems, managed by National Security Technology Accelerator, with the follow-on prototype RAMP PHASE II awarded in August 2021.

Microsoft’s RAMP platform shows how the application of cloud technologies to chip design can meet stringent security, protection, and compliance requirements while at the same time significantly shortening time to market, bringing benefits in security, innovation, and scale. In this RAMP demonstration, the defense industrial base partners demonstrated state-of-the-art, cloud-based design capabilities on the RAMP platform, in collaboration with foundry, IP and electronic design automation partners.

Azure MSWB is part of Microsoft’s broader commitment to empower government and commercial industry to deliver engineering outcomes in a timely, efficient, and secure manner.

Learn more

The Azure Modeling and Simulation Workbench improves the way businesses approach engineering projects. With its ease of use and secure cloud-based architecture, MSWB can help organizations build sophisticated products, collaborate more effectively, while optimizing cost to achieve their business goals and accelerate their time to market. MSWB is in preview now in both Azure Commercial and Azure Government.

To learn more about the Azure Modeling and Simulation Workbench:

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