Skip to content

Instantly share code, notes, and snippets.

Forked from docwhite/main.cpp
Created Aug 1, 2018
What would you like to do?
Thrust + CUDA kernel
#include <iostream>
#include <iomanip>
#include <cstdlib>
#include <thrust/device_vector.h>
* --- Using Thrust vectors in kernel functions ---
* This example demonstrates how we can use device vectors (vectors that live
* in GPU) as arguments to a kernel launched by the CPU.
* Every time you push a value in the thrust::device_vector it is expensive as
* it needs to send it individually to GPU. So in this case it is a not very
* good way to initialize a particle system, but it is good for an example. It
* would be better to initialize all its (vector) members all at once.
* The device_vectors are members of the particle system. Remember that Thrust
* is simply an abstraction that works on CPU. So we cannot send them to a
* kernel. However what we can do, is to get the GPU pointer to the first
* element of the vector and send it to the kernel. This is absolutely great.
* Compilation instructions (in NCCA labs):
* nvcc -g -I/usr/include/cuda -x cu main.cpp
* NOTE: Thrust lives under /usr/include/cuda/thrust so with one -I we can find
* both by prefixing <thrust/...> or just <...> (for cuda headers).
// This is the kernel that is launched from CPU and GPU runs it for each cell
__global__ void kernel(float *positions, float *velocities)
unsigned int index = blockDim.x * blockIdx.x + threadIdx.x;
positions[index] += velocities[index];
// positions[index] = index; // use this one for debugging the index
// The particle system stores the point positions and velocities in
// thrust::vector (not to be confused with a cartesian space vector). Cool thing
// of vectors is that they store the elements contiguously in memory. If we had
// 3 particles in the system the positions thrust::device_vector would look like
// positions: [particle0posx, particle0posy, particle0posz, particle1posx...]
// Same applies for the velocities. That is a sensible way of storing data if we
// want later OpenGL to render them. I will send an example on how to share a
// Vertex attribute buffer with CUDA later.
class ParticleSystem
ParticleSystem() : num(0) {};
void birth_particle(); // pushes back one more particle data to the device_vectors
void advance_particles(); // launches the kernel that adds velocity to positions
thrust::device_vector<float> positions;
thrust::device_vector<float> velocities;
unsigned int num; // number of particles
int main(void)
int numParticles = 1024;
int numSteps = 1; // understand it as "frames", how many steps in time
ParticleSystem ps;
// Send new positions and velocities to GPU
for (int i = 0; i < numParticles; i++)
// Particle data lives in GPU now so we call the kernel on them few times!
// This is great! As we don't have to be retrieving and re-sending, Thrust
// functionality shines in this step. Great framework.
for (int i = 0; i < numSteps; i++)
std::cout << std::fixed;
std::cout << std::setprecision(2);
// This is gonna be an expensive way of accessing the positions, as for each
// call to the ::operator[]() we are fetching the item from GPU to CPU. The
// right way would be to copy the device_vector into a host_vector like this:
// thrust::host_vector<float> host_vector = ps.positions
// That would do it paralelly, it would transfer all the items from the device
// vector into the host_vector in a parallel way, but to keep it simply in the
// code I will not be using it.
for (int i = 0; i < ps.num; i++)
std::cout << ps.positions[3*i] << " " << ps.positions[3*i+1] << " " << ps.positions[3*i+2] << std::endl;
return 0;
void ParticleSystem::birth_particle()
velocities.push_back(2.0f * ((float)rand() / (float)RAND_MAX) - 1.0f);
velocities.push_back(2.0f * ((float)rand() / (float)RAND_MAX) - 1.0f);
velocities.push_back(2.0f * ((float)rand() / (float)RAND_MAX) - 1.0f);
num += 1;
void ParticleSystem::advance_particles()
// As we cannot send device vectors to the kernel (as device_vector is at
// the end of the day a GPU structure abstraction in CPU) we have to get the
// pointer in GPU memory in order for the kernel to know where to start
// reading the float arrays from.
float* d_positions = thrust::raw_pointer_cast(&positions[0]);
float* d_velocities = thrust::raw_pointer_cast(&velocities[0]);
/* This is the way I structured my blocks and threads. I fixed the amount of
* threads per block to 1024. So to get the amount of blocks we just get the
* total number of elements in positions and divide it by 1024. We add one in
* case the division leaves remainder.
* ┌──────────────────────grid─┬of─blocks─────────────────┬──────────
* │ block_of_threads │ block_of_threads │
* │ ┌───┬───┬───────┬──────┐ │ ┌───┬───┬───────┬──────┐ │
* │ │ 0 │ 1 │ [...] │ 1023 │ │ │ 0 │ 1 │ [...] │ 1023 │ │ ...
* │ └───┴───┴───────┴──────┘ │ └───┴───┴───────┴──────┘ │
* └───────────────────────────┴──────────────────────────┴──────────
unsigned int num_of_elements_per_array = 3 * num;
unsigned int block_size = 1024;
unsigned int grid_size = num_of_elements_per_array / block_size + 1;
std::cout << "Num of elements per array: " << num_of_elements_per_array << std::endl;
std::cout << "Num of blocks in grid: " << grid_size << std::endl;
std::cout << "Num of threads per block: " << block_size << std::endl;
// Launch the kernel! As you can see we are not copying memory from CPU to GPU
// as you would normally do with cudaMemcpy(), as we don't need to! The
// vectors live in GPU already so we just need to know where they start (GPU
// pointer) and pass it to the kernel. No need to copy back, we can read from
// the device vector with the ::operator[]() i.e. positions[2] and that would
// do all the memory copying for us!
kernel<<<grid_size,block_size>>>(d_positions, d_velocities);
Sign up for free to join this conversation on GitHub. Already have an account? Sign in to comment