How well do STARLAB and NBODY compare? II: Hardware and accuracy

P. Anders, H. Baumgardt, E. Gaburov, S. Portegies Zwart
Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Peking University, Yi He Yuan Lu 5, Hai Dian District, Beijing 100871, China
arXiv:1201.5692v1 [astro-ph.IM] (27 Jan 2012)


   author={Anders}, P. and {Baumgardt}, H. and {Gaburov}, E. and {Portegies Zwart}, S.},

   title={"{How well do STARLAB and NBODY compare? II: Hardware and accuracy}"},

   journal={ArXiv e-prints},




   keywords={Astrophysics – Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics, Astrophysics – Cosmology and Extragalactic Astrophysics, Astrophysics – Galaxy Astrophysics},




   adsnote={Provided by the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System}


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Most recent progress in understanding the dynamical evolution of star clusters relies on direct N-body simulations. Owing to the computational demands, and the desire to model more complex and more massive star clusters, hardware calculational accelerators, such as GRAPE special-purpose hardware or, more recently, GPUs (i.e. graphics cards), are generally utilised. In addition, simulations can be accelerated by adjusting parameters determining the calculation accuracy (i.e. changing the internal simulation time step used for each star). We extend our previous thorough comparison (Anders et al. 2009) of basic quantities as derived from simulations performed either with STARLAB/KIRA or NBODY6. Here we focus on differences arising from using different hardware accelerations (including the increasingly popular graphic card accelerations/GPUs) and different calculation accuracy settings. We use the large number of star cluster models (for a fixed stellar mass function, without stellar/binary evolution, primordial binaries, external tidal fields etc) already used in the previous paper, evolve them with STARLAB/KIRA (and NBODY6, where required), analyse them in a consistent way and compare the averaged results quantitatively. For this quantitative comparison, we apply the bootstrap algorithm for functional dependencies developed in our previous study. In general we find very high comparability of the simulation results, independent of the used computer hardware (including the hardware accelerators) and the used N-body code. For the tested accuracy settings we find that for reduced accuracy (i.e. time step at least a factor 2.5 larger than the standard setting) most simulation results deviate significantly from the results using standard settings. The remaining deviations are comprehensible and explicable.
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