Porting and optimizing MAGFLOW on CUDA

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Giuseppe Bilotta
Eugenio Rustico
Alexis Hérault
Annamaria Vicari
Giovanni Russo
Ciro Del Negro
Giovanni Gallo


The MAGFLOW lava simulation model is a cellular automaton developed by the Sezione di Catania of the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) and it represents the peak of the evolution of cell-based models for lava-flow simulation. The accuracy and adherence to reality achieved by the physics-based cell evolution of MAGFLOW comes at the cost of significant computational times for long-running simulations. The present study describes the efforts and results obtained by porting the original serial code to the parallel computational platforms offered by modern video cards, and in particular to the NVIDIA Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA). A number of optimization strategies that have been used to achieve optimal performance on a graphic processing units (GPU) are also discussed. The actual benefits of running on the GPU rather than the central processing unit depends on the extent and duration of the simulated event; for large, long-running simulations, the GPU can be 70-to-80-times faster, while for short-lived eruptions with a small extents the speed improvements obtained are 40-to-50 times.

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Bilotta, G., Rustico, E., Hérault, A., Vicari, A., Russo, G., Del Negro, C. and Gallo, G. (2011) “Porting and optimizing MAGFLOW on CUDA”, Annals of Geophysics, 54(5). doi: 10.4401/ag-5341.

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