Towards a Portable and Future-proof Particle-in-Cell Plasma Physics Code

R. F. Bird, S. J. Pennycook, S. A. Wright, S. A. Jarvis
Performance Computing and Visualisation, Department of Computer Science, University of Warwick
1st International Workshop on OpenCL (IWOCL 13), 2013


   title={Towards a Portable and Future-proof Particle-in-Cell Plasma Physics Code},

   author={Bird, RF and Pennycook, SJ and Wright, SA and Jarvis, SA},



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We present the first reported OpenCL implementation of EPOCH3D, an extensible particle-in-cell plasma physics code developed at the University of Warwick. We document the challenges and successes of this porting effort, and compare the performance of our implementation executing on a wide variety of hardware from multiple vendors. The focus of our work is on understanding the suitability of existing algorithms for future accelerator-based architectures, and identifying the changes necessary to achieve performance portability for particle-in-cell plasma physics codes. We achieve good levels of performance with limited changes to the algorithmic behaviour of the code. However, our results suggest that a fundamental change to EPOCH3D’s current accumulation step (and its dependency on atomic operations) is necessary in order to fully utilise the massive levels of parallelism supported by emerging parallel architectures.
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