Visual simulation of soil-microbial system using GPGPU technology

Ruth E. Falconer*, Alasdair N. Houston

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)
    99 Downloads (Pure)


    General Purpose (use of) Graphics Processing Units (GPGPU) is a promising technology for simulation upscaling; in particular for bottom–up modelling approaches seeking to translate micro-scale system processes to macro-scale properties. Many existing simulations of soil ecosystems do not recover the emergent system scale properties and this may be a consequence of “missing” information at finer scales. Interpretation of model output can be challenging and we advocate the “built-in” visual simulation afforded by GPGPU implementations. We apply this GPGPU approach to a reaction–diffusion soil ecosystem model with the intent of linking micro (micron) and core (cm) spatial scales to investigate how microbes respond to changing environments and the consequences on soil respiration. The performance is evaluated in terms of computational speed up, spatial upscaling and visual feedback. We conclude that a GPGPU approach can significantly improve computational efficiency and offers the potential added benefit of visual immediacy. For massive spatial domains distribution over GPU devices may still be required.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)58-71
    Number of pages14
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2015


    • Soil–microbe complex
    • General Purpose (use of) Graphics Processing Units (GPGPU)
    • Mathematical model
    • X-Ray CT
    • Reaction–diffusion


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