[gmx-users] single X double precision

Pedro Alexandre de Araújo Gomes Lapido Loureiro palaplou at gmail.com
Tue Apr 17 20:18:46 CEST 2012


I've come across a discussion about the "single X double precision"
issue in a NAMD users list e-mail (
I would like to know what do you think about these 3 specific points:

1) "there are some places where single precision (FFT, force/energy
computation), where single precision can be applied, but in other
places (summations) where even double precision may result in
artefacts, due to limited numerical accuracy for large enough
systems. there are some applications that show little sensitivity
to single/double precision issues (homogeneous bulk lennard-jones
systems), but others are notoriously difficult (systems with
significant potential drops in one or two dimensions, e.g. metal
surface slabs or lipid bilayers) since you don't have that much
error cancellation anymore."

2) "if you store coordinates in single precision, you have to take
extra precautions for handling very large systems, since you
would store coordinates with different relative precision,
depending on how close you are to the origin. e.g., with domain
decomposition, you can define per domain offsets, but that
would work only well in case of a large enough number of domains. "

3) "the best way to study the impact of single vs. double would be
by running tests with the gromacs code. gromacs _can_ be compiled
in single or double precision. for a proper comparison, you'll have
to turn off the assembly innerloops though, since they may use single
precision even in double precision mode."

Specifically this last point startled me. In fact, is this true?


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