GPU-Accelerated Supercomputers Create Largest Simulation of the Universe

To investigate the nature of dark matter and dark energy, researchers from University of Zurich simulated the formation of our entire universe with the help of two GPU-accelerated supercomputers.

With their revolutionary code called PKDGRAV3, the group of astrophysicists developed a catalog of nearly 25 billion virtual galaxies generated from a two-trillion particle cosmological simulation using 4,000+ Tesla P100 GPU nodes on the Piz Daint supercomputer at CSCS in Switzerland, and an eight-trillion particle simulation on the Tesla K20 GPU-accelerated Titan supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Lab.

According to their paper, “the cosmological experiments of the next decade might shed light on this ‘dark sector’ and possibly revolutionize modern physics.”

The Cosmic Web: A section of the virtual universe, a billion light years across, showing how dark matter is distributed in space, with dark matter halos the yellow clumps, interconnected by dark filaments. Cosmic void, shown as the white areas, are the lowest density regions in the Universe. Credit: Joachim Stadel, UZH

This gigantic catalogue of virtual galaxies is being used to calibrate the experiments on board the Euclid satellite, that will be launched in 2020 with the objective of investigating the nature of dark matter and dark energy. “The nature of dark energy remains one of the main unsolved puzzles in modern science,” says Romain Teyssier, UZH professor for computational astrophysics.

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