Simulation and visualization of the Saint-Venant system using GPUs

Andre Brodtkorb, Trond Hagen, Knut-Andreas Lie, Jostein Natvig
SINTEF ICT, Dept. Appl. Math., P.O. Box 124, Blindern, NO-0314, Oslo, Norway
Computing and Visualization in Science (7 January 2011), pp. 1-13


   title={Simulation and visualization of the Saint-Venant system using GPUs},

   author={Brodtkorb, A.R. and Hagen, T.R. and Lie, K.A. and Natvig, J.R.},

   journal={Scientific Computing on Heterogeneous Architectures},



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We consider three high-resolution schemes for computing shallow-water waves as described by the Saint-Venant system and discuss how to develop highly efficient implementations using graphical processing units (GPUs). The schemes are well-balanced for lake-at-rest problems, handle dry states, and support linear friction models. The first two schemes handle dry states by switching variables in the reconstruction step, so that bilinear reconstructions are computed using physical variables for small water depths and conserved variables elsewhere. In the third scheme, reconstructed slopes are modified in cells containing dry zones to ensure non-negative values at integration points. We discuss how single and double-precision arithmetics affect accuracy and efficiency, scalability and resource utilization for our implementations, and demonstrate that all three schemes map very well to current GPU hardware. We have also implemented direct and close-to-photo-realistic visualization of simulation results on the GPU, giving visual simulations with interactive speeds for reasonably-sized grids.
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