, Volume 28, Issue 2-3, pp 185-192
Date: 23 May 2012

A fast and scalable low dimensional solver for charged particle dynamics in large particle accelerators

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Abstract

Particle accelerators are invaluable tools for research in the basic and applied sciences, in fields such as materials science, chemistry, the biosciences, particle physics, nuclear physics and medicine. The design, commissioning, and operation of accelerator facilities is a non-trivial task, due to the large number of control parameters and the complex interplay of several conflicting design goals.

We propose to tackle this problem by means of multi-objective optimization algorithms which also facilitate massively parallel deployment. In order to compute solutions in a meaningful time frame, that can even admit online optimization, we require a fast and scalable software framework. In this paper, we focus on the key and most heavily used component of the optimization framework, the forward solver. We demonstrate that our parallel methods achieve a strong and weak scalability improvement of at least two orders of magnitude in today’s actual particle beam configurations, reducing total time to solution by a substantial factor.

Our target platform is the Blue Gene/P (Blue Gene/P is a trademark of the International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both) supercomputer. The space-charge model used in the forward solver relies significantly on collective communication. Thus, the dedicated TREE network of the platform serves as an ideal vehicle for our purposes. We demonstrate excellent strong and weak scalability of our software which allows us to perform thousands of forward solves in a matter of minutes, thus already allowing close to online optimization capability.