Comparison of accuracy and performance for lattice Boltzmann and finite difference simulations of steady viscous flow

David R. Noble, John G. Georgiadis, Richard O. Buckius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The lattice Boltzmann method (LBM) is used to simulate flow in an infinite periodic array of octagonal cylinders. Results are compared with those obtained by a finite difference (FD) simulation solved in terms of streamfunction and vorticity using an alternating direction implicit scheme. Computed velocity profiles are compared along lines common to both the lattice Boltzmann and finite difference grids. Along all such slices, both streamwise and transverse velocity predictions agree to within 0.5% of the average streamwise velocity. The local shear on the surface of the cylinders also compares well, with the only deviations occurring in the vicinity of the corners of the cylinders, where the slope of the shear is discontinuous. When a constant dimensionless relaxation time is maintained, LBM exhibits the same convergence behaviour as the FD algorithm, with the time step increasing as the square of the grid size. By adjusting the relaxation time such that a constant Mach number is achieved, the time step of LBM varies linearly with the grid size. The efficiency of LBM on the CM-5 parallel computer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) is evaluated by examining each part of the algorithm. Overall, a speed of 13.9 GFLOPS is obtained using 512 processors for a domain size of 2176 × 2176.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical Methods in Fluids
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996


  • Finite difference
  • Lattice Boltzmann
  • Parallel computing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Mechanics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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