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Thesis Paper: Scientific Computing on Heterogeneous Architectures

The GPGPU blog brings us this PhD Thesis from André R. Brodtkorb entitled, “Scientific Computing on Heterogeneous Architectures” from the University of Oslo, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.


The CPU has traditionally been the computational work horse in scientific computing, but we have seen a tremendous increase in the use of accelerators, such as Graphics Processing Units (GPUs), in the last decade. These architectures are used because they consume less power and offer higher performance than equivalent CPU solutions. They are typically also far less expensive, as more CPUs, and even clusters, are required to match their performance. Even though these accelerators are powerful in terms of floating point operations per second, they are considerably more primitive in terms of capabilities. For example, they cannot even open a file on disk without the use of the CPU. Thus, most applications can benefit from using accelerators to perform heavy computation, whilst running complex tasks on the CPU. This use of different compute resources is often referred to as heterogeneous computing, and we explore the use of heterogeneous architectures for scientific computing in this thesis. Through six papers, we present qualitative and quantitative comparisons of different heterogeneous architectures, the use of GPUs to accelerate linear algebra operations in MATLAB, and efficient shallow water simulation on GPUs. Our results show that the use of heterogeneous architectures can give large performance gains.

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