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Rocky 4 achieves major breakthrough in DEM computational speeds with first ever Multi-GPU solver capabilities

The wait is over. With the fourth major release of its 3D Discrete Element Modeling (DEM) particle simulation software, Rocky 4 becomes the very first commercially available DEM solver to offer support for Multi-GPU Processing. This powerful, innovative, and highly-anticipated release aims to revolutionize processing performance and pave the way for solving bigger simulations faster than ever before. In addition, Rocky 4 brings many new and improved features that will help users perform more accurate and complex simulations, including a completely rebuilt Motion Kernel, and enhanced Rocky-Fluent Coupling. This feature-rich release promises to expand the boundaries of particle simulation. Discover all the highlights below.

Support for Multi-GPU processing

With increase in demand for larger and more realistic DEM simulations, where there are tens of millions of particles, complex particle shapes, and large amounts of data to be handled, the use of multi-GPU technology becomes imperative for providing solutions to clients in a practical time frame to drive engineering design.

Rocky 4 is the first commercially produced DEM software to make multi-GPU technology a reality. Users can now model unit operations which were previously impossible to simulate using existing hardware due to limitations in solver technology that required huge amounts of memory. This latest release overcomes these limitations by including a solver that combines the computing power of GPUs and the available memory from their GPU boards. This enables not only faster simulation run times but also enables Rocky to handle practical cases that were previously impossible to tackle.

Preetanshu Pandey, Principal Scientist at Bristol-Myers Squibb, was recently able to test the new capabilities of Rocky 4 with his R&D team and says, “Introducing Rocky into our process was a big advancement. We were able to achieve a closer match to our experiments in terms of number of particles, largely because the Multi-GPU Processing capabilities included within Rocky 4 made the cases run faster.”

Dr. Alex Potapov, Rocky Chief Technology Officer, states that “Rocky 4 is a result of several years of R&D in algorithms to achieve maximum performance when using GPU processing. The result is an order of magnitude higher in terms of overall solver performance. When running Rocky 4 on multiple GPUs, the performance increase is incredible. But even when running only a single GPU and a multi-core CPU, Rocky 4 provides significant improvements. With this latest release, our customers are now able to perform simulations with multi-million particle amounts within the same time they were previously able to simulate only a few hundred thousand particles.”

Enhanced ANSYS Rocky-Fluent coupling

Rocky 4 also includes improved support for two-way simulations between ANSYS Fluent and Rocky. One major improvement is the ability to handle Fluent’s Moving Meshes, on which the Fluent Mesh might be rotating or translating. This enables users to solve coupled Fluent-Rocky cases that involve moving parts/geometries, with both momentum and energy equations, either using the CPU or multi-GPU solvers.

New Integrated motion kernel

Having a Motion Kernel fully integrated into Rocky 4, with new support for combined motions, enables the definition of an even wider range of problems in a simple and intuitive way. Complex, linked motions are now possible directly within Rocky, which reduces the need for third-party multi-body dynamic simulators. Furthermore, the ability of having an on-the-fly preview of the motion behavior during setup increases productivity by minimizing setup mistakes.

New data storage format

Rocky 4 brings a completely new data storage model, based on the HDF5 format, which is conceived to handle large amounts of data and to be future-ready for very large outputs. Users of Rocky 4 will see big benefits including smaller file sizes, quicker post-processing, and a more responsive user interface.

Improved particle modeling

Several features in Rocky 4 improve the ways in which particles are simulated and calculated. For example, this version brings an updated Particle Generation Scheme, which is capable of providing a continuous stream of particles into the system domain, allowing for better control of mass flow rate. A new Meshed Particle Type is also introduced, which allows for Flexible 3D Particles to be simulated. Increased control over how forces between contacts are calculated is provided by new Contact Models and their related features. In addition, the updated Particle Preview window provides better particle setup control, reducing user mistakes and allowing easy-to-obtain snapshot images for simulation reports.

Enhanced post-processing features

Post-processing has also become easier than ever in Rocky 4. One advancement is the complete breakdown of Energy Spectra for all the combinations of particles-to-particles and particle-to-boundary contact types, enabling users to understand the energy spectra of both the desired and the non-desired collisions. In addition to unbroken particles, broken particle fragments are also considered as separate entities during post-processing, better ensuring that properties like mass flow and particle count are properly accounted.

Support for Linux

Additionally, with Rocky 4 it is possible to have full native support for Linux.

Dr. Rahul Bharadwaj, Vice President of Rocky Business Development and Technical Services, concludes: “We are proud that with this release of Rocky 4, our customers are now able to make DEM models much closer to reality than ever before.

See and learn more about Rocky 4!

Existing Rocky users can download Rocky 4 from the Customer Portal starting May 15th, 2017.

To see Rocky 4 in action, and to learn more about the features and enhancements available in this release, watch our webinar now.


Rocky is a powerful, 3D discrete element modeling (DEM) program that quickly and accurately simulates particle behavior within a conveyor chute, mill, or other materials handling system. Rocky analyzes media flow patterns and energy absorption rates, particle breakage, and energy spectra analysis. The software optimizes life expectancy of conveyor belts and components, minimizes material spillage in a design, and reduces the need for dust control and suppression, among numerous other applications. This software is a revolutionary way to handle a problem through computer simulation.

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