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GPU in Physics Computation: Case Geant4 Navigation

Otto Seiskari, Jukka Kommeri, Tapio Niemi
Helsinki Institute of Physics, Technology Programme, CERN, CH-1211 Geneva 23, Switzerland
arXiv:1209.5235 [physics.comp-ph] (24 Sep 2012)

@article{2012arXiv1209.5235S,

   author={Seiskari, Otto and Kommeri, Jukka and Niemi, Tapio},

   title={"{GPU in Physics Computation: Case Geant4 Navigation}"},

   journal={ArXiv e-prints},

   archivePrefix={"arXiv"},

   eprint={1209.5235},

   primaryClass={"physics.comp-ph"},

   keywords={Computational Physics (physics.comp-ph)},

   year={2012},

   month={sep}

}

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General purpose computing on graphic processing units (GPU) is a potential method of speeding up scientific computation with low cost and high energy efficiency. We experimented with the particle physics simulation toolkit Geant4 used at CERN to benchmark its geometry navigation functionality on a GPU. The goal was to find out whether Geant4 physics simulations could benefit from GPU acceleration and how difficult it is to modify Geant4 code to run in a GPU. We ported selected parts of Geant4 code to C99 & CUDA and implemented a simple gamma physics simulation utilizing this code to measure efficiency. The performance of the program was tested by running it on two different platforms: NVIDIA GeForce 470 GTX GPU and a 12-core AMD CPU system. Our conclusion was that GPUs can be a competitive alternate for multi-core computers but porting existing software in an efficient way is challenging.
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