A survey on agent-based simulation using hardware accelerators

Jiajian Xiao, Philipp Andelfinger, David Eckhoff, Wentong Cai, Alois Knoll

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Due to decelerating gains in single-core CPU performance, computationally expensive simulations are increasingly executed on highly parallel hardware platforms. Agent-based simulations, where simulated entities act with a certain degree of autonomy, frequently provide ample opportunities for parallelisation. Thus, a vast variety of approaches proposed in the literature demonstrated considerable performance gains using hardware platforms such as many-core CPUs and GPUs, merged CPU-GPU chips as well as Field Programmable Gate Arrays. Typically, a combination of techniques is required to achieve high performance for a given simulation model, putting substantial burden on modellers. To the best of our knowledge, no systematic overview of techniques for agent-based simulations on hardware accelerators has been given in the literature. To close this gap, we provide an overview and categorisation of the literature according to the applied techniques. Since, at the current state of research, challenges such as the partitioning of a model for execution on heterogeneous hardware are still addressed in a largely manual process, we sketch directions for future research towards automating the hardware mapping and execution. This survey targets modellers seeking an overview of suitable hardware platforms and execution techniques for a specific simulation model, as well as methodology researchers interested in potential research gaps requiring further exploration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number131
JournalACM Computing Surveys
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • Agent-based simulation
  • Heterogeneous computing


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