Gyrokinetic particle-in-cell optimization on emerging multi- and manycore platforms

Kamesh Madduri, Eun Jin Im, Khaled Z. Ibrahim, Samuel Williams, Stéphane Ethier, Leonid Oliker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The next decade of high-performance computing (HPC) systems will see a rapid evolution and divergence of multi- and manycore architectures as power and cooling constraints limit increases in microprocessor clock speeds. Understanding efficient optimization methodologies on diverse multicore designs in the context of demanding numerical methods is one of the greatest challenges faced today by the HPC community. In this work, we examine the efficient multicore optimization of GTC, a petascale gyrokinetic toroidal fusion code for studying plasma microturbulence in tokamak devices. For GTC's key computational components (charge deposition and particle push), we explore efficient parallelization strategies across a broad range of emerging multicore designs, including the recently-released Intel Nehalem-EX, the AMD Opteron Istanbul, and the highly multithreaded Sun UltraSparc T2+. We also present the first study on tuning gyrokinetic particle-in-cell (PIC) algorithms for graphics processors, using the NVIDIA C2050 (Fermi). Our work discusses several novel optimization approaches for gyrokinetic PIC, including mixed-precision computation, particle binning and decomposition strategies, grid replication, SIMDized atomic floating-point operations, and effective GPU texture memory utilization. Overall, we achieve significant performance improvements of 1.3-4.7× on these complex PIC kernels, despite the inherent challenges of data dependency and locality. Our work also points to several architectural and programming features that could significantly enhance PIC performance and productivity on next-generation architectures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-520
Number of pages20
JournalParallel Computing
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Artificial Intelligence


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