, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 49-92
Date: 22 Mar 2008

Do-it-yourself computational astronomy

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We overview our GRAPE (GRAvity PipE) and GRAPE-DR project to develop dedicated computers for astrophysical N-body simulations. The basic idea of GRAPE is to attach a custom-build computer dedicated to the calculation of gravitational interaction between particles to a general-purpose programmable computer. By this hybrid architecture, we can achieve both a wide range of applications and very high peak performance. GRAPE-6, completed in 2002, achieved the peak speed of 64 Tflops. The next machine, GRAPE-DR, will have the peak speed of 2 Pflops and will be completed in 2008.

We discuss the physics of stellar systems, evolution of general-purpose high-performance computers, our GRAPE and GRAPE-DR projects and issues of numerical algorithms.

Communicated by: Toshiyuki Kobayashi
This article is based on the 3rd Takagi Lectures that the author delivered at Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences, the University of Tokyo on November 23, 2007.