I'm diving into the fascinating world of finite element analysis and would like to solve a large thermo-mechanical problem (only thermal $\rightarrow$ mechanical, no feedback).
For the mechanical problem, I already grasped from Geoff's answer, that I'll need to use iterative solver due to the size of my mesh. I further read in Matt's reply, that the choice of the correct iterative algorithm is a daunting task.
I'm asking here if there exist any experience on large 3-d linear-elastic problems that would help me narrow down my search for the best performance? In my case, it's a structure with thin, patterned films, and irregularly placed materials (both high-CTE and low-CTE). There are no large deformations in this thermo-mechanical analysis. I can use my university's HPC [1.314 nodes, with 2 AMD Opteron processors (each 2.2 GHz/ 8 cores)].
PETSc could contain something interesting, especially the algorithms which do some sort of domain decomposition (FETI, multigrid) but I'm a bit overwhelmed by the options and have no experience. I also like the phrase "geometrically informed preconditioners", but am unsure if this helps me. I have not yet found something focussing on linear continuum mechanics.
Strong scaling (Amdahl) is very important in my application because my industrial partners can't wait a long time for simulation results. I definitely not only appreciate answers, but also recommendations for further reading in the comments.