Student develops gaming technology for environmental scientific research

April 12, 2018

A PhD student at The University of Manchester has developed a new method and software for using computer game technology for complex scientific and engineering simulations.

Powerful graphics cards, also known as graphic processing units (GPUs), are usually used to create ultrafast gameplay and realistic visuals for games consoles, personal computers, and laptops. But recently, the GPU has emerged as a technology to accelerate scientific simulations, running some applications over 100 times faster than conventional computers.

Using this technology, Alex Chow, from the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering, is now creating largescale simulations of 'violent fluid flows' including powerful ocean waves crashing against offshore wind turbines to predict their potential impact forces on the structures.Creating complex and accurate computer simulations is usually done on a so-called 'supercomputer'. Rather than being an individual machine, a supercomputer is actually made up of hundreds of central processing units (CPUs) connected with up to thousands of computing cores. Such powerful computers are needed because these large simulations have billions of calculations and millions of data points. These kinds of machines, although extremely powerful are very expensive, with even small clusters ranging from hundreds of thousands of pounds to millions of pounds. They also use large amounts of energy and are only accessible to a small number of researchers and scientists.

The benefit of using a graphic processing unit (GPUs) is that they're much cheaper and energy efficient compared to usual supercomputers needed to do such complex simulations. Some GPUs are compact enough to fit in a laptop whereas supercomputers may require a whole room or dedicated facility.

Alex has developed a computer software from the open-source code "DualSPHysics" for the scientific simulation method "Incompressible smoothed particle hydrodynamics (ISPH)" to run on a GPU for simulating complex, violent hydrodynamic (water) flows. The new code is capable of computing millions of data points on a single device for real 3D engineering applications. A key challenge Alex has needed to overcome in the research is the requirement to solve mathematical systems of millions of simultaneous equations which constantly change throughout a simulation.

He says: "Using this kind of technology reduces the costs of complex scientific simulations from hundreds of thousands of pounds to just a couple of thousand. An advantage is that most researchers and small engineering companies are able to afford a relatively powerful laptop/computer with a quality GPU so it makes this kind of simulation and research even more accessible."

Speaking about his project, Chow added: "The amount of energy produced from offshore environments is increasing as the world tries to meet the worlds energy targets, but the ocean environment can be very violent and harsh, so efficiently designing structures for these environments is a difficult task. Using physical experiments can be extremely impractical and not representative of the problem. These simulations allow engineers and researchers to make important decisions about the design of a structure without having to invest in site visits and costly experiments."
-end-
Notes to Editor

For more information or to speak with Alex Chow contact Jordan Kenny on 0161 275 8257 or jordan.kenny@manchester.ac.uk

Energy

The paper, 'Incompressible SPH (ISPH) with fast Poisson solver on a GPU' has been published in the journal of Computer Physics Communications -- Alex D. Chow; Benedict D. Rogers; Steven J. Lind; Peter K. Stansby https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpc.2018.01.005

Energy is one of The University of Manchester's research beacons - examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet. #ResearchBeacons

[Energy video]

About The University of Manchester

The University of Manchester, a member of the prestigious Russell Group, is the UK's largest single-site university with more than 40,000 students - including more than 10,000 from overseas.It is consistently ranked among the world's elite for graduate employability.

The University is also one of the country's major research institutions, rated fifth in the UK in terms of 'research power' (REF 2014). World-class research is carried out across a diverse range of fields including cancer, advanced materials, addressing global inequalities, energy and industrial biotechnology.

No fewer than 25 Nobel laureates have either worked or studied here.

It is the only UK university to have social responsibility among its core strategic objectives, with staff and students alike dedicated to making a positive difference in communities around the world.

Manchester is ranked 38th in the world in the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2017 and 6th in the UK.

Visit http://www.manchester.ac.uk for further information.

Facts and figures: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/facts-figures/

Research Beacons: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/research/beacons/

News and media contacts: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/

University of Manchester

Related Technology Articles from Brightsurf:

December issue SLAS Technology features 'advances in technology to address COVID-19'
The December issue of SLAS Technology is a special collection featuring the cover article, ''Advances in Technology to Address COVID-19'' by editors Edward Kai-Hua Chow, Ph.D., (National University of Singapore), Pak Kin Wong, Ph.D., (The Pennsylvania State University, PA, USA) and Xianting Ding, Ph.D., (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China).

October issue SLAS Technology now available
The October issue of SLAS Technology features the cover article, 'Role of Digital Microfl-uidics in Enabling Access to Laboratory Automation and Making Biology Programmable' by Varun B.

Robot technology for everyone or only for the average person?
Robot technology is being used more and more in health rehabilitation and in working life.

Novel biomarker technology for cancer diagnostics
A new way of identifying cancer biomarkers has been developed by researchers at Lund University in Sweden.

Technology innovation for neurology
TU Graz researcher Francesco Greco has developed ultra-light tattoo electrodes that are hardly noticeable on the skin and make long-term measurements of brain activity cheaper and easier.

April's SLAS Technology is now available
April's Edition of SLAS Technology Features Cover Article, 'CURATE.AI: Optimizing Personalized Medicine with Artificial Intelligence'.

Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.

Post-lithium technology
Next-generation batteries will probably see the replacement of lithium ions by more abundant and environmentally benign alkali metal or multivalent ions.

Rethinking the role of technology in the classroom
Introducing tablets and laptops to the classroom has certain educational virtues, according to Annahita Ball, an assistant professor in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, but her research suggests that tech has its limitations as well.

The science and technology of FAST
The Five hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), located in a radio quiet zone, with the targets (e.g., radio pulsars and neutron stars, galactic and extragalactic 21-cm HI emission).

Read More: Technology News and Technology Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.