FMM-based vortex method for simulation of isotropic turbulence on GPUs, compared with a spectral method

Rio Yokota, L. A. Barba
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA, 02215, USA
arXiv:1110.2921v2 [cs.NA] (20 Jun 2012)


   author={Yokota}, R. and {Barba}, L.~A.},

   title={"{FMM-based vortex method for simulation of isotropic turbulence on GPUs, compared with a spectral method}"},

   journal={ArXiv e-prints},




   keywords={Computer Science – Numerical Analysis, Physics – Computational Physics, Physics – Fluid Dynamics, 76F05, G.1.2, G.1.9},




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


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The Lagrangian vortex method offers an alternative numerical approach for direct numerical simulation of turbulence. The fact that it uses the fast multipole method (FMM)—a hierarchical algorithm for N-body problems with highly scalable parallel implementations—as numerical engine makes it a potentially good candidate for exascale systems. However, there have been few validation studies of Lagrangian vortex simulations and the insufficient comparisons against standard DNS codes has left ample room for skepticism. This paper presents a comparison between a Lagrangian vortex method and a pseudo-spectral method for the simulation of decaying homogeneous isotropic turbulence. This flow field is chosen despite the fact that it is not the most favorable flow problem for particle methods (which shine in wake flows or where vorticity is compact), due to the fact that it is ideal for the quantitative validation of DNS codes. We use a 256^3 grid with Re_lambda=50 and 100 and look at the turbulence statistics, including high-order moments. The focus is on the effect of the various parameters in the vortex method, e.g., order of FMM series expansion, frequency of reinitialization, overlap ratio and time step. The vortex method uses an FMM code (ExaFMM) that runs on GPU hardware using CUDA, while the spectral code (hit3d) runs on CPU only. Results indicate that, for this application, the spectral method is an order of magnitude faster than the vortex method when using a single GPU for the FMM and six CPU cores for the FFT.
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