Parallelization of Geospatial Models

I wish Microsoft would provide more info on the Windows Azure Fabric Controller. This is the technology that allows a large cluster of computers to be harnessed by an application. In addition to documentation, don’t think they’ve done a very good job selling the benefits of parallelization. Here are three spatial modeling areas where I think parallel processing would make life easier. These are the sorts of models that you typically run over night or over the weekend. Before the geospatial community dismisses the cloud as hype, I think we really need to look at the potential benefits.

Transportation Modeling
Trip Assigment is used by planners wishing to analyze how changes to a street network impact traffic flows. Here is a paper mentioning of how parallelization can benefit this activity.

“The extraordinary time savings of this method was limited only by the amount of hardware available and the granularity of the model steps. In practice, full runs shortened from 36 hours to 9.”

Flood Modeling
Non-steady state river flow modeling takes a lot of CPU. Looks like DHI has parallelized MIKE 21.

“Particular noteworthy is the introduction of parallel processing in the FM series of MIKE 21.”

Seismic Modeling
When parallelization works, adding CPUs becomes cost effective. Intel realizes this and has sponsored some interesting work in using Hadoop for ground motion modeling. They were able to reduce the model runs from 36 to two hours.

1 comment so far

  1. vectorone on

    I agree. Parallelization can result in large gains in efficiency with time saving. If I remember correctly, many ecological models such as those involving carbon exchange and plant growth also benefit from this form of processing. I think Fortran is often employed.

    The idea is using computers while people sleep in one part of the world (or are not working) is just plain common sense.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: