Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is widely used in industry and academic research to investigate complex fluid flow. The bottleneck of a realistic CFD simulation is its long simulation time. The simulation time is generally reduced by massively parallel Central Processing Unit (CPU) clusters, which are very expensive. In this paper, it is shown that the CFD simulation can be accelerated significantly by a novel hardware called General Purpose Computing on Graphical Processing Units (GPGPU). GPGPU is a cost-effective computing cluster, which uses the Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA) of NVIDIA devices to transform the GPU into a massively parallel processor.
The paper demonstrates the faster computing ability of GPU compared to a traditional multi-core CPU. Two scenarios are simulated; one is a 2-dimensional simulation of regular wave and another one is a 3-dimensional motion of a floating ship on a regular wave. A smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) based CFD solver is used for simulating the complex free-surface flow. The performance of a single GPU is compared against a commonly used 16 core CPU. For a large simulation of 6 degrees of freedom (DOF) ship motion simulation, the comparative study exhibits a speedup of more than an order of magnitude, reducing simulation time from 30 hours to about 2 hours. This indicates a CUDA enabled GPU card can be used as a cost-effective computing tool for a reliable and accurate SPH-based CFD simulation. The cost-benefit analysis of GPU over a CPU cluster is also discussed.