Fitting Galaxies on GPUs

Barsdell, Benjamin

Structural parameters are normally extracted from observed galaxies by fitting analytic light profiles to the observations. Obtaining accurate fits to high-resolution images is a computationally expensive task, requiring many model evaluations and convolutions with the imaging point spread function. While these algorithms contain high degrees of parallelism, current implementations do not exploit this property. With ever-growing volumes of observational data, an inability to make use of advances in computing power can act as a constraint on scientific outcomes. This is the motivation behind our work, which aims to implement the model-fitting procedure on a graphics processing unit (GPU). We begin by analysing the algorithms involved in model evaluation with respect to their suitability for modern many-core computing architectures like GPUs, finding them to be well-placed to take advantage of the high memory bandwidth offered by this hardware. Following our analysis, we describe a preliminary implementation of the model fitting procedure using freely-available GPU libraries, obtaining a speed-up of around 10x over a quad-core CPU implementation. We discuss the opportunities this speed-up provides, including the ability to use more computationally expensive but better-performing fitting routines to increase the quality and robustness of fits. We also describe the re-use of our code to fit models to data of different dimensionality, such as one-dimensional spectra and three-dimensional spectral cubes.

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