GRAVIDY, a GPU modular, parallel direct-summation N-body integrator: Dynamics with softening

Cristián Maureira-Fredes, Pau Amaro-Seoane

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2017 The Authors. A wide variety of outstanding problems in astrophysics involve the motion of a large number of particles under the force of gravity. These include the global evolution of globular clusters, tidal disruptions of stars by a massive black hole, the formation of protoplanets and sources of gravitational radiation. The direct-summation of N gravitational forces is a complex problem with no analytical solution and can only be tackled with approximations and numerical methods. To this end, the Hermite scheme is a widely used integration method. With different numerical techniques and special-purpose hardware, it can be used to speed up the calculations. But these methods tend to be computationally slow and cumbersome to work with. We present a new graphics processing unit (GPU), direct-summation N-body integrator written from scratch and based on this scheme, which includes relativistic corrections for sources of gravitational radiation. GRAVIDY has high modularity, allowing users to readily introduce new physics, it exploits available computational resources and will be maintained by regular updates. GRAVIDY can be used in parallel on multiple CPUs and GPUs, with a considerable speed-up benefit. The single-GPU version is between one and two orders of magnitude faster than the single-CPU version. A test run using four GPUs in parallel shows a speed-up factor of about 3 as compared to the single-GPU version. The conception and design of this first release is aimed at users with access to traditional parallel CPU clusters or computational nodes with one or a few GPU cards.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3113-3127
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


    • Celestial mechanics
    • Methods: numerical
    • Stars: kinematics and dynamics


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