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Rocky DEM

Advanced particle simulation software for better and faster results.


Rocky DEM for bulk material simulation.

Rocky DEM quickly and accurately simulates the flow behavior of bulk materials with complex particle shapes and size distributions.

Multi-GPU Processing

Only in Rocky DEM can you combine the processing power of several GPU cards to accelerate your simulations, enabling you to work with higher volumes of data in less time.


Multiple Particle Shapes

Rocky DEM allows modeling of accurate particle shapes which includes custom 3D bodies, 2D shells and fibers which can be made rigid or flexible.

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Multibody Dynamics

Enable your equipment components to move freely in response to forces such as particle contacts, gravity, and more.

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Breakage Modeling

Currently, two kinds of breakage models are available in Rocky DEM: The Ab-T10 model and the Tavares model. Both models preserve both mass and volume.

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Rocky DEM’s Application Programming Interface (API) is based on the most-recent technology for customization and user experience integration. The result delivers unique usability, portability and, above all, solver performance.

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Ansys Integration

Fully integrated with Ansys Workbench (Fluent, Mechanical, Optislang and DesignXplorer). Includes both one-way and two-way coupling abilities with Ansys Fluent providing physically consistent and accurate results.

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Leverage your industry

Get access to the key features for optimization of industrial equipment and processes.

Several features set Rocky DEM apart from other particle simulation software: its multi-GPU processing capabilities, truly non-round particle shapes, ability to simulate particle breakage without loss of mass or volume, visualization of boundary surface reduction due to wear, and more.

Multi-GPU Processing

The multi-GPU solver in Rocky DEM distributes and manages the combined memory of two or more GPU cards within a single motherboard, overcoming memory limitations and achieving a substantial performance increase by aggregating computing power. Regardless of the size of your business, Rocky can speed up your particle simulations.

Rocky’s Benefits

Rocky can help you:

  • Facilitate large-scale simulations involving tens of millions of particles and/or complicated solutions.
  • Speed up computational time and simulation performance.
  • Scale down additional CPU memory costs.
  • Reduce energy consumption.
  • Free-up all your CPUs for coupled simulations, avoiding hardware competition.

Performance Benchmark

A performance benchmark for a rotating drum illustrates how Rocky’s multi-GPU solver speeds up solve time in many common applications. For more info, check our blog


Multibody Dynamics

Rocky DEM allows you the freedom to configure complex geometry movements by enabling many translations, rotation, vibration, swinging, crushing, and free-body motions as you need.

Moreover, Rocky’s fully integrated motion kernel offers support for combined geometry motions right within the software – no need for any third-party motion tools.

So whether you want to prescribe exact movements, or have your geometry components move freely in response to outside forces like particle contacts and gravity, Rocky DEM has your complex motion needs covered.

Possible Movements

  • Translation
  • Rotation
  • Periodic Rotation (Pendulum)
  • Periodic Translation (Vibration)
  • Free Body Translation
  • Free Body Rotation
  • Additional Force
  • Additional Moment
  • Spring-Dashpot Force
  • Spring-Dashpot Moment

Create Complex Movements

  • Combined Motion
  • Nested Frame

Breakage Modeling

Regardless of the particle shape or the application being analyzed, Rocky DEM has the
appropriate breakage model for you. All models can preserve the mass and volume of the original particle.

Instantaneous Fragmentation

The Ab-T10 and the Tavares models allow the representation of hard materials’ brittle breakage, producing randomly shaped fragments with smaller fragments being generated closer to the impact point.

Ab-T10 Breakage Model

Rocky DEM works with both a fracture subdivision algorithm and a breakage energy probability function, which itself is based upon a well-established model in the industry (JKMRC Ab-T10). This breakage model uses arbitrary-shaped convex polyhedrons and can preserve both mass and volume during the breakage process. Also, it treats every particle as a single entity that can be broken into fragments instantaneously based upon the breakage force and/or energy values defined.

Tavares Breakage Model

The Tavares breakage model is an extension of Rocky DEM’s original Ab-T10 breakage model. It has been validated via single-particle testing, and the results have been documented in many peer-reviewed publications over the last 20 years.

This model focuses on fracture by low-energy stressing, which helps in simulating many unit operations in particulate materials processing and handling, where particles are often subject to a complex series of loading events.

Tavares’s breakage model describes the progressive growth of crack-like damage that ultimately leads to the fracture of a particle under stresses significantly lower than those required for breakage in a first event.

Discrete breakage

Rocky’s unique discrete breakage model is a high-fidelity model that considers the collision location at the particle’s surface along with its consequent internal stresses, capturing shape-dependent breakage and crack propagation.
Unlike most DEM codes that use a combination of spheres connected to each other to approximate a particle shape, Rocky uses tetrahedrons, allowing for representation of any particle shape, preserving volume and mass. Thus, it can simulate breakage for particles of any shape and aspect ratio: fibers, shells, and custom shaped particles.



Rocky DEM’s Application Programming Interface (API) is based on the most-recent technology for customization and user experience integration. This combination provides unique usability, portability and, above all, solver performance. Rocky allows you to customize the application interface, using the Pre & Post API, and to compute advanced custom models using the Solver API.

Pre and Post-API

Scripting API is a great way to save time by automating repeatable tasks. Scripting gives access to Rocky DEM raw data and simulation results, so you can automate your case setup and post-processing steps, especially when you’re performing a complex analysis for many similar kinds of cases. The API can configure and simulate a project from scratch, analyze and export simulation results, and perform computations that go beyond Rocky’s standard feature set.

C++ Solver API

The Solver API is C++ based, and it enables physics such as new contact and joint models, particle properties, body forces, and custom scalars. It gives access to the simulation processing cycle, making it possible to select a specific processing to include a custom code to compute on the solver time. This lets you implement a completely new model to execute on Rocky.

User Experience

A seamless deployment of custom models, backed by a visual interface in the setup stage, and all new custom variables automatically available for detailed analysis in the post-processing stage.

Single Code For Both Multi-CPU & Multi-GPU Solvers

One single code compatible with both solver technologies, reducing the cost of maintaining custom routines or learning complex GPU programming techniques.

No Performance Degradation

Users can implement custom models using the same structure and logics from embedded models without code virtualization or memory overhead.

Particle and Contact Energy Spectra

Rocky DEM enables you to collect and analyze energy spectra as a useful method to drastically decrease the computational cost of breakage modeling solutions.

This time-saving feature collects the energy statistics of particle collisions to predict breakage and attrition rates for continuous processes and show results in a graphical format, which is helpful in analyzing continuous comminution processes such as grinding mills.

• Particle-based statistics: energy is gathered per particle type (material and size)
• Collision-based statistics: energy is collected per contact type (material, type, and size)

This feature provides insight into how energy is distributed amongst collisions, i.e, in comparing the frequency and power between different colliding pairs.

While missing the high-impact 3D visuals provided by traditional breakage modeling, energy spectra produces actionable results faster by eliminating the computational costs of calculating and visualizing each individual broken fragment..

3D Surface Wear Modification

Rocky DEM can be used as a tool for predicting the abrasive wear of solid surfaces. In addition, Rocky implements a validated Archard’s wear model, providing an accelerated wear model so that months of wear patterns observed in the field can be predicted after a few minutes of virtual simulation.

The transient variation of normal and shear stresses on the surface and their related work are computed accurately and viewed easily.

There are two major ways you can use Rocky to gain an understanding of how your geometries will wear over time:

  •  Enabling wear surface modification, which changes the physical appearance of the geometry as the simulation progresses.
  • View a color map of the surface intensity.


Collision Statistics

The visualization of collision statistics is a key feature in Rocky DEM.

Intra-particle Collision Statistics

For certain solid and flexible particle sets, you can obtain collision data between two consecutive output time levels. This data can be displayed graphically on the surface of a representative particle, using a conventional field representation with a color scale. You can then differentiate performance for different particle types subject to the same process, or evaluate surface wear and particle chipping.

Inter-particle Collision Statistics

If you want to expand the set of particle properties available for post-processing, including several statistical properties that may be collected during a simulation, you can collect Inter-particle Collision Statistics before processing your simulation. This can be useful when you need to extract data that considers all collisions that happened to a certain particle between two output periods. For example, with impact velocity, you could relate that data to the chances of the particle breaking or causing it to deagglomerate. With duration, you could relate that data to a certain mass or heat transfer process, or to a certain chemical reaction.



Fluid Flow Modeling

Set or Modify Fluid Flow Properties

In Rocky DEM, there are four unique methods for simulating the interaction between particles and the surrounding fluids (air, water, dust, etc.), known more commonly as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD).

Lattice Boltzmann Air Flow Method

The first method is accomplished by enabling Rocky to calculate how particle flow and the boundaries that contain those particles affect the air that comes into contact with them.

This method uses the Lattice Boltzmann Method (LBM) for its calculations and is useful for simulating how much dust a transfer chute design would generate, for example.

In this method, the air flow does not affect the movement of the particles; only the particles and the boundaries affect the air flow.

Constant One Way Method

The first of the two One Way methods, the Constant One Way method, is useful in cases where you have a known, unchanging fluid field and want to understand how it impacts the flow of particles without having to use a separate CFD program.

You can set a constant value for density, velocity, viscosity (and thermal properties if thermal is being solved), and Rocky DEM will use those values to simulate the fluid field.

Ansys Fluent One Way Steady State Method

The second of the two One Way methods is accomplished by a one-way steady-state coupling with Ansys Fluent. In this method, a CFD simulation done within Ansys Fluent calculates the velocity and pressure fields generated by the fluid as it flows through the equipment being studied.

At the end of a simulation, or once steady state has reached the flow field, that data is then exported out of Ansys Fluent and imported into Rocky DEM, where Rocky DEM then calculates how the fluid flow would affect the particle flow.

The Ansys Fluent One Way Steady State method is particularly useful for simulating the effect of water on the movement of particles through a pipe, for example. Or, for simulating the transport of particles with different densities by water in a slurry-like flow.

In the Ansys Fluent One Way Steady State method, the particles do not affect the fluid flow; the fluid flow affects the movement of the particles.

Ansys Fluent Two Way Method

The Ansys Fluent Two Way method, is particularly useful for simulating complex phenomena such as pneumatic conveying, granular drying, slurry flow inside grinding mills, or even chemical reactions between particles and fluids.

In the Ansys Fluent Two Way method, the particles are part of the fluid flow and will affect it in a two-way interaction: particles are affected by other particles and the fluid around it while the fluid flow is also affected by the particle pressure.

Realistic Particle Shapes

Rocky DEM enables you to simulate a system with real particle shapes and sizes, specifying both round and truly non-round particle shapes.

You can mix and match different shape, size, flexibility, and adhesion combinations to create your own unique particle sets.

Rocky comes with default shapes that you can use out-of-the-box. Also, you can define and import your own custom shapes or even model any shape, including fibers and shells, both rigid or flexible.

Multiple particle shapes

Rocky DEM and Ansys

Rocky DEM is fully integrated with the Ansys Workbench suite of products, allowing engineers to perform various coupled analyses of particle simulation together with other physics such as structural, fluids, and thermal modeling.

Making use of this integration enables you to reduce the costs associated with design iteration. By linking together Rocky with other Ansys software, Workbench saves you time by automatically transferring data between the programs and automatically updating linked projects based upon the results calculated.

Being fully integrated within Ansys Workbench allows Rocky to:

  • Maximize the design of your geometry components by using Ansys SpaceClaim.
  • Parameterize simulation and setup components by using Ansys DesignXplorer.
  • Conduct FEA analysis of particle forces acting upon geometry components by using Ansys Mechanical.
  • Study how fluid forces and convective heat exchange affect particle flow and temperature by using Ansys Fluent.

In addition, Rocky enables two-way coupled simulations with Ansys Fluent. In these simulations, the fluid affects the particle flow while the particle flow affects the fluid field in return, taking into account momentum and heat exchanged between particles and fluids.


Rocky DEM is the only DEM software certified as Ansys Advanced Solution


Ansys Fluent Coupling

Rocky-Ansys Fluent coupling is a powerful tool for designing and troubleshooting particulate processes using simulation technology, enabling engineers to analyze a large range of processes in many different industries, including oil and gas, agroindustry, pharmaceutics, mining, and many others.

Ansys Mechanical Coupling

The loads estimated by Rocky DEM analyses are passed to Ansys Mechanical to predict the structural response, or 1-way coupling. This coupling enables static analysis, transient analysis, harmonic analysis, fatigue analysis, and dynamic analysis to be completed on equipment using Rocky DEM data.

Ansys optiSLang and Ansys DesignXplorer

Rocky DEM is integrated into the Ansys Workbench schematic, allowing engineers to perform design optimization analysis, since Rocky input and output parameters are exposed to other Ansys modules, such as DesignXplorer and Optislang. Benefits of this pervasive parametric design optimization include Design Exploration, Parameters Correlation, Responsive Surface, and Design Optimization.

System requirements

Please see below for minimum system requirements and optional recommendations.


  • 64-bit Windows 10, 64-bit Windows Server 2019, or 64-bit CentOS 7 Linux* Operating Systems

  • A graphics card that supports OpenGL

  • 4 GB of free disk space

  • 4 GB of RAM

  • Two-button mouse with center wheel

  • Screen resolution of 1280 x 1024

  • * Other Linux-based platforms are currently being tested and verified.


  • 8 GB of free disk space

  • 8 GB of RAM

  • Quad-core or better processor (Intel Core i5, Intel Core i7, or Intel Xeon processor)

  • Ansys SpaceClaim or other CAD software

  • Microsoft Excel or other spreadsheet software

  • AVI-compatible media player

Additional Minimum Requirements for GPU or Multi-GPU Processing

One or more NVIDIA GPU cards (computing or gaming), each with the following criteria:

• At least 4 GB memory
• Fast double-precision processing capabilities*
• A CUDA compute capability of 3.5 or higher. (See the GPUs Supported table for a list of GPUs and their compute capabilities. )
• A graphics driver version** that supports the CUDA version 11.1 toolkit or higher. (See the CUDA Driver table for a list of which driver version supports which toolkit version. )

* Required only for simulations using shaped particles.
**Ensure your GPU card drivers are updated before using Rocky.

For more information, see: Rocky GPU Buying Guide and FAQs.

Additional requirements for coupling Rocky with Ansys

Rocky can be coupled with several Ansys products——including Fluent, Mechanical, SpaceClaim, DesignXplorer, Workbench, Minerva, Motion*, and optiSLang*——from the following software versions:

* Coupling with Rocky is currently supported only in Ansys 2021 R2.

  • Ansys version 2020 R2

  • Ansys version 2021 R1

  • Ansys version 2021 R2

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