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kmooney April 12, 2012 13:27

8x icoFoam speed up with Cufflink CUDA solver library foamers,

Last night I took a leap of faith and installed the Cufflink library for Openfoam-ext. It appears to reformat OF sparse matrices, sends them onto an NVIDIA card, and uses the built in CUSP linear algebra functions to accelerate the solution time of various flavors of CG solvers.

I found it here:
I had to hack the compile setup a little to avoid any MPI/parallel stuff as I'm not ready to delve that deep into it quite yet. Other than that installation was pretty straight forward.

I ran the icoFoam cavity tutorial at various mesh sizes and plotted the execution times. I figured I would share the results with the community. Keep in mind that this was a really quick A-B comparison to satisfy my own curiosity. Solver tolerances were matched between the CPU and GPU runs.

A little bit about my machine:
Intel core i7, 8 gbs ram
Nvidia GeForce GTX 260
OpenSuse 11.4

akidess April 12, 2012 13:59

Great, thanks for sharing! Are you using single or double precision?

kmooney April 12, 2012 14:00

It was all run in DP.

vinz April 13, 2012 03:05

Dear Kyle,

How many cores do you use on your CPU and on your GPU? For each case you use the same number?
Is N the number of cells in your graphic?

alberto April 13, 2012 03:43

Any comparison with SpeedIT plugin for OpenFOAM?

kmooney April 13, 2012 10:02

Hi Vincent, The CPU runs were done on just a single core and yes, N is the number of cells in the domain. I'm actually kind of curious as to how many multiprocessors the video card ended up using. I'm not sure how the library decides on grid-block-thread allocations.

Alberto, I was considering trying the speedIT library but I think only the single precision version is free of charge. Do you have any experience with it?

lordvon April 13, 2012 18:09

Thanks for posting this! I just bought a GTX 550 to utilize this. I will post some data. I will be doing transient parallel cpu simulations with GGI to compare.

chegdan April 14, 2012 15:54

Very nice Kyle,

I'm glad to see someone using Cufflink, I've been reluctant to post anything since its still developing. I haven't been able to add more solvers or publicize Cufflink, since I'm writing the last little bit of my thesis and didn't have time to fix bugs if everyone started to have problems.

What version of CUSP and CUDA were you using?
What was the type of problem you were solving?
What was your mesh composition (cell shape and number, number of faces, boundary conditions,etc.)
What is your motherboard and or bandwidth speed to your GPU?
Which preconditioners did you use?

@those interested
* there are plans to port it to the SGI version in the next few months (unless someone wants to help).
* I had no plans to do anything with windows or mac....but if there is interest...this could be a nice project.
* If you want to add more CUDA based linear system solver/preconditioners this can be done by contributing to Cufflink directly ( or to the CUSP ( project. If it is contributed to CUSP, then it will be included in Cufflink.
* in general, the CUDA based solvers work more effectively if you problem is solved using many inner iterations (linear system solver iterations) and less effectively if outer iterations are dominant. This is due to the cost of shooting data back and forth to the GPU. So I would expect results to be different for a steady state solver that relies on lots of outer iterations where you would use a relTol rather than an tolerance as your stopping criteria.
* Lastly, I would stay away from single precision as the smoothed aggregate preconditioner had some single precision issues in earlier versions of Cufflink (though it can be compiled in single precision) is meant for double precision.

Anyway, Kyle...good work.

Edit: The multi-GPU version works, but it is still in development. I'm not current on the speedup numbers (yes there is speedup) for the parallel version (included in the cufflink download already), but it is getting some work from another group to use UVA and GPUDirect with testing on large clusters. Any multi-gpu improvements will be updated in the google-code library.

chegdan April 15, 2012 12:41

Since I'm not selling anything or making money from Cufflink (since its open source), I think I can make a few comments.

* Though we always compare everything against base case of the non-preconditioned (bi)conjugate gradient, when looking at the CUDA based linear system solvers one should be fair. Make sure to compare the best OpenFOAM solver vs. the best of the GPU solvers (of course both against the base of the non-preconditioned (bi)conjugate gradient). If your metric is focused on solving a problem quickly, will multiple CPUs running in parallel (e.g. using GAMG) be better than a single high end GPU or several high end GPUs (or even multiple lower cost GPUs)?

* I definitely think GPU solvers have their place and they will have a tremendous impact, once the bottlenecks are worked through. What is important now is to understand where heterogeneous computing thrives and outperforms our current computing paradigm. I gave an example in the last post about inner iterations and outer iterations.

* The speedup is highly dependent on hardware and the problem being solved. You might even see some variability in the numbers if you ran the test a few times. One can have a really amazing setup, but a mediocre cluster if the communication is slow between nodes.

* There are known differences in precision in the GPU vs the CPU, i.e. double precision vs extended double precision ( And I have wondered if this loss of a few decimal places could also be an additional increase in speed (I'm no expert, this is just thinking out loud).

* There is a lot of hype in to sell these GPU solvers, so be careful of that. Fact: When the GPU is used in the right situation (in algorithms that can be parallelized i.e. linear system solvers), there is amazing and real speedup.

I hope people find this helpful.

lordvon April 16, 2012 22:01

Hello all, on the cufflink installation instructions webpage, it says that a complete recompilation of openfoam is required under the heading 'Changes in lduInterface.H'.

Could someone give more details about how to do this?

chegdan April 16, 2012 22:07


Originally Posted by lordvon (Post 355013)
Hello all, on the cufflink installation instructions webpage, it says that a complete recompilation of openfoam is required under the heading 'Changes in lduInterface.H'.

Could someone give more details about how to do this?

Yeah, make sure you are using extends version first of all. If you have compiled OF before, then this will be easy. You just need to take the lduInterface.H provided in the Cufflink folder (maybe save a copy of your old lduInterface.H) and and place it in the


folder and recompile. Of course this is only necessary for the MultiGPU usage. Then just recompile the install of openfoam, recompile cufflink, and you should be good (in theory). This may throw off your git or svn if/when you update the ext then you may get some warnings.

Also, I just noticed that you were going to use GGI. This may be a problem as it will take some more thought to program cufflink to work with all the interfaces (as of now cufflink only works with the processor interfaces, i.e. nothing special like cyclics) and the regular boundary conditions.

lordvon April 16, 2012 22:10

Thanks, but the recompiling part is what I was asking about. Just some simple instructions, please.

chegdan April 16, 2012 22:19

oh...this may be difficult if there are errors. to recompile OF-extends, just type


and that will take you to the right OpenFOAM directory, and then type


and then go get a coffee. if all runs smoothly it will compile fine...if not then you will be an expert by the time you get it working again.

Lukasz April 17, 2012 04:27


Originally Posted by alberto (Post 354503)
Any comparison with SpeedIT plugin for OpenFOAM?

Actually, we did compare icoFoam CPU vs. GPU. Here is a link to more detailed report.

We analyzed cavity3D up to 9M cells for transient/steady-state flows run on Intel Dual Core and Intel Xeon E5620. Accelerations were up to x33 and x5.4, respectively.

Larger cases, such as motorbike, simpleFoam with 32M cells, had to be run on a cluster. If you are interested you may take a look at this report.

lordvon April 17, 2012 11:23

Lukasz, your presentation link says that memory bottleneck was the cause of no speedup using PISO. However the reference for that figure says that:

OpenFOAM implements the PISO method using the GAMG method, which was not ported to the GPU.
Two things:
-I am pretty sure you can just change the solver while still using PISO.
-This means that memory bottleneck was not the cause; the GPU simply wasnt being used!

Someone verify this please.

Here is a link to the referenced paper:

Lukasz April 18, 2012 07:39

Thanks for your comments!

There were two tests in our publication. We compared SpeedIT with CG and diagonal preconditioner on GPU with 1) pisoFoam with CG and DIC/DILU preconditioner 2) pisoFoam with GAMG.

The quoted sentence meant that GAMG was used on CPU. This procedure was not ported to GPU and therefore SpeedIT was not so succesful in terms of acceleration. Maybe you are right, CPU should be more emphasized in this sentence.

In a few days, we will publish a report where AMG preconditioner was used which converges faster than a diagonal precondtioner.

lordvon April 18, 2012 08:33

Hi Lukasz, thanks for the reply. So are you saying that the dark bar ("diagonal vs. diagonal", tiny speedup) represents CG solver with diagonal preconditioner, while the lighter bar ("diagonal vs. other", no speedup) represents GAMG solver with diagonal preconditioner? It seemed to me from the text only preconditioners were varied, not the solvers.

The speedup chart caption:

Fig. 6. Acceleration of GPU-accelerated OpenFOAM solvers against the corresponding original CPU implementations with various preconditioners of linear solvers. Dark bars show the
acceleration of diagonally preconditioned GPU-accelerated solvers over the CPU implmentations with recommended preconditioners GAMG for the PISO, and DILU/DIC for the
simpleFOAM and potentialFOAM solvers.
Here is the whole paragraph of my quote above:

The results for the GPU acceleration are presented in Fig. 6 and show that the
acceleration of the PISO algorithm is hardly noticeable. This is a result of the fact
that OpenFOAM implements the PISO method using the Geometric Agglomerated Algebraic Multigrid (GAMG) method, which was not ported to the GPU.

Lukasz April 18, 2012 14:20


Originally Posted by lordvon (Post 355385)
It seemed to me from the text only preconditioners were varied, not the solvers.

You are correct. I asked my collegues and indeed, the preconditioners were varying, not the solvers.
Sorry about the misleading reply, the tests were done a while ago.

BTW, what solvers do you think are worthwile to accelerate with CG being accelerated on GPU?

lordvon April 22, 2012 13:30

Hmm.. About that icoFoam tutorial listed in the CUDA installation instructions page has some lines of code to create a custom solver directory named 'my_icoFoam'; I tried it out and it wierdly deleted all of my solvers... No problem I just had to remove and reinstall of1.6ext.

lordvon April 22, 2012 13:38

Oh, and Lukasz, so it seems that the speedup comparison in the presentation in your link showing that there was speedup in porting the matrix solving to the GPU in SIMPLE and potential solvers, but no speedup with PISO, is wrong. The GPU was not even being used. This is good news, because that implied that GPU acceleration was not going to give any benefit with PISO owing to its nature. GGI is implemented with PISO / PIMPLE and it is what I wanted to use Cufflink with. But in fact there still may be speedup with PISO if a solver other than GAMG is used (in the implementation you referenced).

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