EDEM’s New Discrete Element Method Product Maximizes Performance with GPUs
Jeffrey Rowe posted on December 11, 2018 |

The newest release of EDEM’s Discrete Element Method (DEM) for bulk material simulation focuses on performing simulations involving millions of particles by harnessing GPU technology, enabling users to run larger and more advanced simulations faster. With this release, EDEM 2019, new features and tools are being introduced, including a Python library for easier post-processing of large amounts of data, the ability to simulate deformable geometries and a new breakage model.

Mixer simulation involving 10 million particles. This type of simulation can greatly benefit from adding GPUs in parallel. (Image courtesy of EDEM.)
Mixer simulation involving 10 million particles. This type of simulation can greatly benefit from adding GPUs in parallel. (Image courtesy of EDEM.)

DEM is a numerical method for computing the motion and effect of a large number of small particles. While it is related to molecular dynamics, the method is generally distinguished by its inclusion of rotational degrees-of-freedom, as well as contact and complicated geometries, including polyhedral. With advances in computing power and numerical algorithms for nearest neighbor sorting, numerically simulating millions of particles on a single processor is possible. GPUs have become increasingly important for maximizing performance. DEM is regarded as an effective method of addressing engineering problems in granular and discontinuous materials, especially in granular flows and powder mechanics.

“Our customers have experienced the value of EDEM simulation across a wide variety of applications,” said Richard LaRoche, EDEM CEO. “As confidence in the method has grown, we are seeing rapidly evolving requirements for applying EDEM to solve many industrial problems involving a large number of fine particles, notably in the powder handling industries such as additive manufacturing. This means it is more important than ever to be able to simulate a large number of particles in a shorter time. With EDEM 2019, we’re excited to announce a range of capabilities that expand the applications that EDEM can address.” 

Some of the highlights of the EDEM 2019 release include:

  • The EDEM multi-GPU solver engine that uses multiple GPU processors to increase the maximum size of simulation can be run on GPUs, which also increases performance. This means users can run large simulations faster. It also creates more possibilities to run much larger simulations that would not be possible on CPU only. Performance gains from adding a second GPU range between 30 to 90 percent depending on the distribution and size of the simulation. In general, the larger the simulation (over 1 million particles), the greater the benefit from multi-GPU. The multi-GPU solver is fully double-precision to ensure accuracy and has been developed on OpenCL, providing flexibility for users to use either AMD or NVIDIA graphics cards.
Custom physics models can now effectively use the massive performance gains attainable with GPU technology. (Image courtesy of EDEM.)
Custom physics models can now effectively use the massive performance gains attainable with GPU technology. (Image courtesy of EDEM.)
  • One of the key advantages of EDEM is its versatile EDEM Application Programming Interface (API) for writing custom physics scenarios for modeling complex material behavior such as flexible fibers, sticky solids and breakage. With EDEM 2019, API models can now be run directly on the GPU solver for benefits from the performance boost that the GPU provides. “We’re very excited to finally announce the EDEM API on GPU as this marks a major step towards migrating all EDEM capabilities onto GPU technology,” said Mark Cook, product manager of EDEM. “Integrating this with the substantial performance increase achieved with the GPU and multi-GPU solvers makes for a very powerful combination for EDEM users.”
  • Being able to simulate how a geometry is being deformed as a result of a bulk material acting on it is something that has several applications. The EDEM deformation solver engines have been enhanced to facilitate continuous modification of a geometry structure during simulation. This means geometry sections can change shape and deform, enabling users to directly couple EDEM to flexible body simulations for a range of applications such as belts, sheet panels and elastic membranes.
  • EDEM is releasing a beta version of a new breakage model that can describe fracture of particles subjected to repeated loading by simulating both surface degradation and body breakage. This advanced model considers both catastrophic breakage, due to high impact, as well as surface breakage, due to abrasion. The breakage model is able to provide key outputs related with the weakening of the particles and their related energies before and after breakage, as well as the final fragmentation and the size distribution of the fragments. This is the first breakage model able to address the different mechanisms of breakage including both surface damage and fragmentation.

For CAE integration, EDEM has interfaces and functionality for coupling with all the major CAE technologies such as finite element analysis (FEA), multi-body dynamics (MBD) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD), including those from vendors such as ANSYS, MSC Software, Dassault Systèmes, and Siemens PLM Software.

For more information, visit www.edemsimulation.com.

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