Evaluation of an FPGA Implementation of the Discrete Element Method

  • Benjamin Carrion Schafer
  • Steven F. Quigley
  • Andrew H. C. Chan
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2147)


The Distinct Element Method (DEM) is a numerical method for the simulation of the behaviour of media consisting of discrete particles, and is widely used for process optimisation in the food and pharmaceutical industries. The DEM is very computationally expensive, but has properties that make it amenable to acceleration by reconfigurable computing. This paper presents the design of an implementation of the DEM in FPGA hardware. Its performance is about 5 times faster than that of a software implementation running on a 1 GHz Athlon processor. The paper discusses how improvements to the design, notably greater use of parallelism, can give a much greater speed advantage.


Clock Cycle Discrete Element Method Hardware Requirement FPGA Implementation Discrete Element Method 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Heinrich M. Jaeger, Sidney R. Nagel,, Robert P. Behringer. Physics Today, April 1996. An introduction to granular physics, page 32. Available at
  2. 2.
    S.G. Bardenhagen, J.U. Brackbill, D. Sulsky. The material-point method for granular materials Elsevier on Computer methods in applied mechanics and engineering 187 (2000) 529–541.zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    P.A. Cundall O.D.L. Strack, A discrete numerical model for granular assemblies. Geotechnique 29, pp. 1–8, 1979CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    C. Thornton & S.J. Antony, Quasi-static deformation ofparticulate media, Phil Trans R Soc Lond, A356: 2763–2782, 1998Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    P.A. Cundall, BALL-A program to model granular media using the distinct element method., 1978 Appendix I pp. 5–6Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Mario Antonioletti. The DEM application demonstrator pp. 7. Available at
  7. 7.
    Jean-Albert Ferrez, Didier Mueller, Thomas M. Liebling. Parallel Implementation of a distinct element method for granular media simulation on the Cray T3D. Available at
  8. 8.
    Andrew I. Hustrulid. Parallel implementation of the discrete element method. Available at
  9. 9.
    ML Sawley & PW Clearly. CSIRO Mathematical & Information Sciences, Clayton, Australia. A Parallel discrete element method for industrial granular flow simulations, EPLF Supercomputing review-SCR No 11, Nov. 99Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin Carrion Schafer
    • 1
  • Steven F. Quigley
    • 1
  • Andrew H. C. Chan
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Electronic and Electrical EngineeringUniversity of BirminghamEdgbaston, BirminghamUK
  2. 2.School of Civil EngineeringUniversity of BirminghamEdgbaston, BirminghamUK

Personalised recommendations