Cellular automata simulations on a FPGA cluster.
Hoekstra, Alfons G.
Sloot, Peter M. A.
Date of Issue2010
School of Computer Engineering
The emergence of multicore architectures and the chip industry’s plan to roll out hundreds of cores per die sometime in the near future might have triggered the evolution of von Neumann architectures towards a parallel processing paradigm. The capability to have hundreds of cores per die is exciting, but how optimally we are able to utilize such a resource remains a challenge. Since there are no straightforward solutions we seek inspiration from relevant scientific processes. Cellular automata which are inherently decentralized and spatially extended structures provide a potential candidate among parallel processing alternatives. The availability of spatial parallelism on field programmable gate arrays make them the ideal platform to investigate cellular automata systems as potential parallel processing paradigms on multicore architectures. This article presents a massively parallel implementation for a floating-point-based cellular automata using special purpose hardware such as Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGAs). The challenge is to best map an application to the underlying many-core architecture and address issues such as inter-core communication, scalability, and flexibility both in terms of hardware and software. Maxwell — a 64-node FPGA supercomputer, is used for accelerator implementations that range from a single to a multiple FPGA-enabled system. A performance model is proposed and demonstrated to closely reproduce measured execution times. The performance model enables identification of the main sources of overhead and suggests improvements to the architecture and implementation of the lattice Boltzmann method and compute-bound cellular automata in general. Further, a 2 million cell 2DQ9 lattice Boltzmann method lattice with periodic boundary conditions, simulated using a multiple FPGA chip accelerator implementation, is presented. The performance model shows how the FPGA-enabled PC cluster is the preferred multiple FPGA organization over the multiple FPGA-based PC setup. Latency hiding is fully exploited for PC cluster-based system implementations and demonstrated using system profiling.
International journal of high performance computing applications
© 2010 The Authors.