NASA SIMULATES SPACE DUST WITH CUDA

by Andrew Humber

Researchers at NASA want to get a better understanding of what happens when galaxies collide.

Nasa's Brian Green: Galaxies Collide Nasa: Galaxies Collide Demo

At SC09, NASA demonstrated the computation and visualization of dust grain equilibrium temperatures using NVIDIA GPUs.  When calculating the infrared spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of galaxies in radiation-transfer models, the computation of dust grain temperatures is generally the most time-consuming part of the calculation. Because of its highly parallel nature, this calculation is perfectly suited for GPUs.

Researchers there developed their own Monte-Carlo radiation transfer code, called “Sunrise”, using CUDA.  With an NVIDIA GPU, NASA can perform this calculation 55 times faster than using an 8-core Xeon processor.

Bryan Green of NASA’s visualization team (who gave us a wonderful demo) stated that a big reason for his enthusiasm of GPU computing is the CUDA Linux development environment NVIDIA has provided.