High performance cellular level agent-based simulation with FLAME for the GPU

Paul Richmond, Dawn Walker, Simon Coakley, Daniela Romano
The Department of Computer Science, University of Sheffield, Regent Court, 211 Portobello, Sheffield, S1 4DP, UK
Brief Bioinform, Vol. 11, No. 3. (1 May 2010), pp. 334-347.


   title={High performance cellular level agent-based simulation with FLAME for the GPU},

   author={Richmond, P. and Walker, D. and Coakley, S. and Romano, D.},

   journal={Briefings in bioinformatics},





   publisher={Oxford Univ Press}


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Driven by the availability of experimental data and ability to simulate a biological scale which is of immediate interest, the cellular scale is fast emerging as an ideal candidate for middle-out modelling. As with bottom-up’ simulation approaches, cellular level simulations demand a high degree of computational power, which in large-scale simulations can only be achieved through parallel computing. The flexible large-scale agent modelling environment (FLAME) is a template driven framework for agent-based modelling (ABM) on parallel architectures ideally suited to the simulation of cellular systems. It is available for both high performance computing clusters (www.flame.ac.uk) and GPU hardware (www.flamegpu.com) and uses a formal specification technique that acts as a universal modelling format. This not only creates an abstraction from the underlying hardware architectures, but avoids the steep learning curve associated with programming them. In benchmarking tests and simulations of advanced cellular systems, FLAME GPU has reported massive improvement in performance over more traditional ABM frameworks. This allows the time spent in the development and testing stages of modelling to be drastically reduced and creates the possibility of real-time visualisation for simple visual face-validation. 10.1093/bib/bbp073
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