Title page for ETD etd-01232009-103652

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Duvenhage, Bernardt
URN etd-01232009-103652
Document Title Migrating to a real-time distributed parallel simulator architecture
Degree MSc
Department Computer Science
Advisor Name Title
Prof D G Kourie Supervisor
  • Ground Based Air Defence System
  • discrete event representation
  • discrete time representation
  • distributed parallel simulator
  • real-time simulator
  • quantised approach
Date 2008-09-02
Availability unrestricted

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) currently requires a system of systems simulation capability for supporting the different phases of a Ground Based Air Defence System (GBADS) acquisition program. A non-distributed, fast-as-possible simulator and its architectural predecessors developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was able to provide the required capability during the concept and definition phases of the acquisition life cycle. The non-distributed simulator implements a 100Hz logical time Discrete Time System Specification (DTSS) in support of the existing models. However, real-time simulation execution has become a prioritised requirement to support the development phase of the acquisition life cycle.

This dissertation is about the ongoing migration of the non-distributed simulator to a practical simulation architecture that supports the real-time requirement. The simulator simulates a synthetic environment inhabited by interacting GBAD systems and hostile airborne targets.

The non-distributed simulator was parallelised across multiple Commod- ity Off the Shelf (COTS) PC nodes connected by a commercial Gigabit Eth- ernet infrastructure. Since model reuse was important for cost effectiveness, it was decided to reuse all the existing models, by retaining their 100Hz logical time DTSSs.

The large scale and event-based High Level Architecture (HLA), an IEEE standard for large-scale distributed simulation interoperability, had been identified as the most suitable distribution and parallelisation technology. However, two categories of risks in directly migrating to the HLA were iden- tified. The choice was made, with motivations, to mitigate the identified risks by developing a specialised custom distributed architecture.

In this dissertation, the custom discrete time, distributed, peer-to-peer, message-passing architecture that has been built by the author in support of the parallelised simulator requirements, is described and analysed. It reports on empirical studies in regard to performance and flexibility. The architecture is shown to be a suitable and cost effective distributed simulator architecture for supporting a speed-up of three to four times through parallelisation of the 100 Hz logical time DTSS. This distributed architecture is currently in use and working as expected, but results in a parallelisation speed-up ceiling irrespective of the number of distributed processors.

In addition, a hybrid discrete-time/discrete-event modelling approach and simulator is proposed that lowers the distributed communication and time synchronisation overhead—to improve on the scalability of the discrete time simulator—while still economically reusing the existing models. The pro- posed hybrid architecture was implemented and its real-time performance analysed. The hybrid architecture is found to support a parallelisation speed- up that is not bounded, but linearly related to the number of distributed pro- cessors up to at least the 11 processing nodes available for experimentation.

©University of Pretoria 2008

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