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The development of video game graphics technology for research in computational physics

Researcher Sara María Rubio has been selected to participate in an international campaign for women innovators (Women Who CUDA).

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Sara Rubio
PHOTO: Manuel Castells
20/08/14 09:44 Laura Latorre

Sara María Rubio is one of the most innovative women in technology at area . She has recently been invited to participate in an international campaign, together with young women from around the world, which seeks to encourage their participation in the development of algorithms in graphics processing architectures (GPUs).

Rubio, a researcher at the University of Navarra, specifically in the field of computational physics, relates her experience in the development of her doctoral thesis and explains that her fundamental goal is "the numerical study of granular systems trying to describe and understand their behavior and their macroscopic mechanical properties". However, the numerical modeling of this subject of systems by means of sequential numerical algorithms, calculating in an ordinary way on the computer CPU, presents mainly two problems: that the issue of simulated particles cannot be very large and that the computational time is very long.

An alternative to speed up calculations is to "share" the numerical tasks, distributing them to other parts of the computer, which are commonly used for other purposes. Very recently and thanks to the popularization of computer games, the technology used for the manufacture of graphics cards has been revolutionized in a dizzying way, so that the idea of using its execution power for other purposes has been gaining many followers.

So thousands of developers, scientists and researchers are finding countless practical applications for this technology, not only in video and image processing, but also for performing numerical calculations in scientific-technological applications.

Improvement B in execution time

Currently, researchers from department of Physics and Applied Mathematics of the School of Sciences of the University of Navarra are working on the implementation of new molecular dynamics algorithms and Monte Carlo simulations on graphics cards. The use of this technique has significantly improved the execution time of their simulations with respect to the traditional method on CPU microprocessors.

Nvidia Corporation is a multinational business part of NASDAQ and is specialized in the development of graphics processing units. In February Sara Maria participated in an activity of training sponsored by Nvidia-Spain, where she presented her experiences developing algorithms that describe the interaction between particles in a complex way. In addition, as a complement to her research training , Rubio has attended during the month of July a summer school on mathematical modeling of complex systems held in Athens. Her work has merited her participation in the Women Who CUDA campaign.