A sparse octree gravitational N-body code that runs entirely on the GPU processor

Jeroen Bedorf, Evghenii Gaburov, Simon Portegies Zwart
Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, P.O. Box 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
arXiv:1106.1900v1 [astro-ph.IM] (9 Jun 2011)


   author={B{‘e}dorf}, J. and {Gaburov}, E. and {Portegies Zwart}, S.},

   title={"{A sparse octree gravitational N-body code that runs entirely on the GPU processor}"},

   journal={ArXiv e-prints},




   keywords={Astrophysics – Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics, Computer Science – Distributed, Parallel, and Cluster Computing},




   adsnote={Provided by the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System}


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We present parallel algorithms for constructing and traversing sparse octrees on graphics processing units (GPUs). The algorithms are based on parallel-scan and sort methods. To test the performance and feasibility, we implemented them in CUDA in the form of a gravitational tree-code which completely runs on the GPU.(The code is publicly available at: http://castle.strw.leidenuniv.nl/software.html) The tree construction and traverse algorithms are portable to many-core devices which have support for CUDA or OpenCL programming languages. The gravitational tree-code outperforms tuned CPU code during the tree-construction and shows a performance improvement of more than a factor 20 overall, resulting in a processing rate of more than 2.8 million particles per second.
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