Intel® Parallel Computing Center at Institute of Computational Cosmology, Durham University

Principal Investigator:

Prof. Richard Bower

A long time ago, Richard Bower grew up in a small Cornish village where the sky was dark and it was warm enough outside to wonder where they came from. Today, he is Professor of Cosmology at Durham University. He works at the ICC, the Institute for Computational Cosmology, creating a virtual Universe with some of the world’s largest computers. As well as teaching courses on Cosmology and Computing, he has lectured on topics as diverse as the Physics of Motorsport and the Robert Grosseteste's 13th century vision of the creation of the Universe, "De Luce". 


The aim of these simulations is to recreate a virtual universe inside the supercomputer. The calculation starts from the smooth and almost uniform state of the universe shortly after the Big Bang, we then evolve the infant universe forward in time including the physics of gravity, hydrodynamics and the formation of stars and black holes. Such simulations are crucial for allowing us to understand how and why galaxies form, and are also essential if we are to correctly interpret current and future surveys of the Universe.

The goal of our Intel® Parallel Computing Center (Intel® PCC) center is to optimize a new code for gravitational hydro-dynamics. The code simultaneously solves for force due to gravity and hydrodynamics, within an expanding cosmological framework. Its implementation is designed from the outset to take full advantage of the Xeon and Phi chipsets using an approach based on fine-grained task-based parallelism, and to build on recent advances in particle simulation techniques such as the pressure-energy formulation of SPH and deformable mesh interactions. The code design concentrates on load-balance, strong scaling, SIMD vectorisation, hybrid memory access, mixed-precision, and asynchronous communication.

The methods we are developing are of benefit across a wide range of science domains, and the methods we develop are being incorporated into the QuickSched task-based library in order to make application to codes in molecular dynamics, flood and landscape evolution modeling as simple as possible.


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