High Performance Lattice Boltzmann Solvers on Massively Parallel Architectures with Applications to Building Aeraulics

Christian Obrecht
CETHIL – Centre de Thermique de Lyon
tel-00776986, 17 January 2013


   title={High Performance Lattice Boltzmann Solvers on Massively Parallel Architectures with Applications to Building Aeraulics},

   author={Obrecht, C.},


   school={INSA de Lyon}


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With the advent of low-energy buildings, the need for accurate building performance simulations has significantly increased. However, for the time being, the thermo-aeraulic effects are often taken into account through simplified or even empirical models, which fail to provide the expected accuracy. Resorting to computational fluid dynamics seems therefore unavoidable, but the required computational effort is in general prohibitive. The joint use of innovative approaches such as the lattice Boltzmann method (LBM) and massively parallel computing devices such as graphics processing units (GPUs) could help to overcome these limits. The present research work is devoted to explore the potential of such a strategy. The lattice Boltzmann method, which is based on a discretised version of the Boltzmann equation, is an explicit approach offering numerous attractive features: accuracy, stability, ability to handle complex geometries, etc. It is therefore an interesting alternative to the direct solving of the Navier-Stokes equations using classic numerical analysis. From an algorithmic standpoint, the LBM is well-suited for parallel implementations. The use of graphics processors to perform general purpose computations is increasingly widespread in high performance computing. These massively parallel circuits provide up to now unrivalled performance at a rather moderate cost. Yet, due to numerous hardware induced constraints, GPU programming is quite complex and the possible benefits in performance depend strongly on the algorithmic nature of the targeted application. For LBM, GPU implementations currently provide performance two orders of magnitude higher than a weakly optimised sequential CPU implementation. The present thesis consists of a collection of nine articles published in international journals and proceedings of international conferences (the last one being under review). These contributions address the issues related to single-GPU implementations of the LBM and the optimisation of memory accesses, as well as multi-GPU implementations and the modelling of inter-GPU and inter-node communication. In addition, we outline several extensions to the LBM, which appear essential to perform actual building thermo-aeraulic simulations. The test cases we used to validate our codes account for the strong potential of GPU LBM solvers in practice.
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