Accelerating sino-atrium computer simulations with graphic processing units

Hong Zhang*, Zheng Xiao, Shien-Fong Lin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sino-atrial node cells (SANCs) play a significant role in rhythmic firing. To investigate their role in arrhythmia and interactions with the atrium, computer simulations based on cellular dynamic mathematical models are generally used. However, the large-scale computation usually makes research difficult, given the limited computational power of Central Processing Units (CPUs). In this paper, an accelerating approach with Graphic Processing Units (GPUs) is proposed in a simulation consisting of the SAN tissue and the adjoining atrium. By using the operator splitting method, the computational task was made parallel. Three parallelization strategies were then put forward. The strategy with the shortest running time was further optimized by considering block size, data transfer and partition. The results showed that for a simulation with 500 SANCs and 30 atrial cells, the execution time taken by the non-optimized program decreased 62% with respect to a serial program running on CPU. The execution time decreased by 80% after the program was optimized. The larger the tissue was, the more significant the acceleration became. The results demonstrated the effectiveness of the proposed GPU-accelerating methods and their promising applications in more complicated biological simulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S739-S746
JournalBio-Medical Materials and Engineering
StatePublished - Aug 2015


  • Sino-atrial node
  • atrium
  • computer simulations
  • dynamic model
  • graphic processing units
  • optimization

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