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DynaSOAr: A CUDA Framework for Single-Method Multiple-Objects Applications

SMMO (Single-Method Multiple-Objects) is a wide-spread pattern of parallel, object-oriented, high-performance code. It is OOP-speech for SIMD (Single-Instruction Multiple-Data) and means that a method should be executed for all objects of a type.

DynaSOAr comes with a parallel, lock-free, dynamic memory allocator that lets programmers create/delete objects in device code. In contrast to other allocators, this allocator is an object allocator for structured data. While other allocators allocate X number of bytes, this allocator can only allocate objects of C++ classes/structs that were defined within DynaSOAr. This allows us to apply additional data layout optimizations.

As an example, an nbody simulation consists of n body objects, for each of which a move method for computing the next position of a body should be executed. DynaSOAr is a CUDA framework (C++ template library) that facilitates the development of such programs. The four main features of DynaSOAr are:

  • SOA Data Layout: Objects are stored in the SIMD-friendly Structure of Arrays data layout. Other layouts may be supported in the future.
  • Dynamic Memory Management on Device: New objects can be created at any time in the CUDA kernel and existing objects can be deleted (new/delete).
  • Parallel Enumeration: DynaSOAr provides an efficient way to run a member function (method) for all objects of a type in parallel.
  • Memory Defragmentation: Can lower overall memory usage and speed up application code in the object space becomes to fragmented.



Tested with the CUDA Toolkit versions 9.1 (gcc version 5.4.0) and 10.1 on an Nvidia Titan Xp machine (Ubuntu 16.04.1). A device with a minimum compute capability of 5.0 is required. libsdl2 is required for graphical visualizations in example code. We provide build scripts for compiling the examples. See the Wiki for more information.

API Overview

All classes/structs that should be managed by DynaSOAr must inherit from AllocatorT::Base, where AllocatorT is the fully configured type of the allocator. The first template argument to SoaAllocator is the maximum number of objects that can exist within the allocator at any given time; this number determines the memory usage of the allocator. The following arguments are all classes/structs that are managed by DynaSOAr.

DynaSOAr has a host side API (AllocatorHandle<AllocatorT>) and a device side API (AllocatorT). The following functionality is provided with those APIs.

  • AllocatorHandle::AllocatorHandle(): This constructor allocates all necessary memory on GPU.
  • AllocatorHandle::device_pointer(): Returns a pointer to the device allocator handle (AllocatorT*).
  • AllocatorHandle::parallel_do<C, &C::foo>(): Runs a member function C::foo() in parallel for all objects of type C that were created with the allocator. This will launch a CUDA kernel. This function returns when the CUDA kernel has finished processing all objects.
  • new(allocator) (args...): Creates a new object of type C and returns a pointer to the new object. C must be a type that is managed by the allocator. allocator is a pointer to the device allocator.
  • destroy(allocator, ptr): Deletes an existing object ptr of type C that was created with the allocator. This is similar to C++ delete.
  • AllocatorT::device_do<C>(&C::foo, args...): Runs C::foo(args...) for all objects of type C that were created with the allocator. Note that this does not spawn a new CUDA kernel; execution is sequential.
  • AllocatorT::parallel_defrag<C>(): Runs a defragmentation pass on all objects of type C. This pass compacts objects and rewrites pointers to object that were relocated.

API Example

This example does not compute anything meaningful and is only meant to show the API. Take a look at the DynaSOAr tutorial and at the code in the example directory for more interesting examples.

#include "dynasoar.h"

// Pre-declare all classes.
class Foo;
class Bar;

// Declare allocator type. First argument is max. number of objects that can be created.
using AllocatorT = SoaAllocator<64*64*64*64, Foo, Bar>;

// Allocator handles.
__device__ AllocatorT* device_allocator;
AllocatorHandle<AllocatorT>* allocator_handle;

class Foo : public AllocatorT::Base {
  // Pre-declare types of all fields.
  declare_field_types(Foo, float, int, char)
  // Declare fields.
  SoaField<Foo, 0> field1_;  // float
  SoaField<Foo, 1> field2_;  // int
  SoaField<Foo, 2> field3_;  // char
  __device__ Foo(float f1, int f2, char f3) : field1_(f1), field2_(f2), field3_(f3) {}
  __device__ void qux() {
    field1_ = field2_ + field3_;

  __device__ void baz() {
    // Run in Bar::foo(42) sequentially for all objects of type Bar. Note that
    // Foo::baz may run in parallel though.
    device_allocator->template device_do<Bar>(&Bar::foo, 42);

class Bar : public SoaBase<AllocatorT> { /* ... */ };

__global__ void create_objects() {
  Foo* object = new(device_allocator) Foo(1.23f, 4, 0);
  // Delete object: destroy(device_allocator, object);

int main(int argc, char** argv) {
  // Optional, for debugging.
  // Create new allocator.
  allocator_handle = new AllocatorHandle<AllocatorT>();
  AllocatorT* dev_ptr = allocator_handle->device_pointer();
  cudaMemcpyToSymbol(device_allocator, &dev_ptr, sizeof(AllocatorT*), 0,

  // Create 2048 objects.
  create_objects<<<32, 64>>>();

  // Call Foo::qux on all 2048 objects.
  allocator_handle->parallel_do<Foo, &Foo::qux>();


CUDA Dynamic Memory Allocator for SOA Data Layout





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