Accelerating incompressible flow computations with a Pthreads-CUDA implementation on small-footprint multi-GPU platforms

Julien Thibault, Inanc Senocak
Department of Computer Science, Boise State University, Boise, ID 83725, USA
The Journal of Supercomputing (17 August 2010), pp. 1-27-27.


   title={Accelerating incompressible flow computations with a Pthreads-CUDA implementation on small-footprint multi-GPU platforms},

   author={Thibault, J.C. and Senocak, I.},

   journal={The Journal of Supercomputing},





Graphics processor units (GPU) that are originally designed for graphics rendering have emerged as massively-parallel “co-processors” to the central processing unit (CPU). Small-footprint multi-GPU workstations with hundreds of processing elements can accelerate compute-intensive simulation science applications substantially. In this study, we describe the implementation of an incompressible flow Navier-Stokes solver for multi-GPU workstation platforms. A shared-memory parallel code with identical numerical methods is also developed for multi-core CPUs to provide a fair comparison between CPUs and GPUs. Specifically, we adopt NVIDIA’s Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA) programming model to implement the discretized form of the governing equations on a single GPU. Pthreads are then used to enable communication across multiple GPUs on a workstation. We use separate CUDA kernels to implement the projection algorithm to solve the incompressible fluid flow equations. Kernels are implemented on different memory spaces on the GPU depending on their arithmetic intensity. The memory hierarchy specific implementation produces significantly faster performance. We present a systematic analysis of speedup and scaling using two generations of NVIDIA GPU architectures and provide a comparison of single and double precision computational performance on the GPU. Using a quad-GPU platform for single precision computations, we observe two orders of magnitude speedup relative to a serial CPU implementation. Our results demonstrate that multi-GPU workstations can serve as a cost-effective small-footprint parallel computing platform to accelerate computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations substantially.
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