Assessing the feasibility of OpenCL CPU implementations for agent-based simulations

Nuno Fachada, Agostinho C. Rosa
Institute for Systems and Robotics (ISR/IST), LARSyS, Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisboa, Portugal
IWOCL 2017: Proceedings of the 5th International Workshop on OpenCL, Article No. 4


   author={Fachada, Nuno and Rosa, Agostinho C.},

   title={Assessing the Feasibility of OpenCL CPU Implementations for Agent-based Simulations},

   booktitle={Proceedings of the 5th International Workshop on OpenCL},

   series={IWOCL 2017},



   location={Toronto, Canada},








   address={New York, NY, USA},

   keywords={Agent-based model, OpenCL, PPHPC, Parallel simulation, cf4ocl}


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Agent-based modeling (ABM) is a bottom-up modeling approach, where each entity of the system being modeled is uniquely represented as a self-determining agent. Large scale emergent behavior in ABMs is population sensitive. As such, it is advisable that the number of agents in a simulation is able to reflect the reality of the system being modeled. This means that in domains such as social modeling, ecology, and biology, systems can contain millions or billions of individuals. Such large scale simulations are only feasible in non-distributed scenarios when the computational power of commodity processors, such as GPUs and multi-core CPUs, is fully exploited. In this paper we evaluate the feasibility of using CPU-oriented OpenCL for high-performance simulations of agent-based models. We compare a CPU-oriented OpenCL implementation of a reference ABM against a parallel Java version of the same model. We show that there are considerable gains in using CPU-based OpenCL for developing and implementing ABMs, with speedups up to 10x over the parallel Java version on a 10-core hyper-threaded CPU.
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