Author: Dr. Nick Johnson, EPCC


Having just returned from Lausanne where we had the most recent all-hands meeting, it was time to write our periodic report. These are good opportunities to step back and see what we've covered, as a work-package and partner since our first meeting in Stockholm in October 2015.

I resurrected a set of slides to do a comparison and see that we've covered a fair amount of work in the past 18 months and I even now understand some of the maths! We've worked heavily on energy efficiency, benchmarking codes in-depth on a number of systems. We are lucky that we have three similar (but not identical) systems from the same vendor so we can easily exchange measurement tips and libraries. It is also apparent that despite using well tuned systems, we see variances between runs of a simulation and have to be careful to design out experiments. 

ExaFLOW Meeting Lake Genova
'We all came out to Lausanne / On the Lake Geneva shoreline / To have a meeting with the ExaFLOWs / We didn't have much time ... No smoke on the water, just the sun in the sky!'

Similarly, we've been making gains in our efforts to extend communications libraries and make them more ready for future exascale machines by exploring different programming models. The current library is robust but uses only MPI v1 features and as such we cannot easily take advantage of single sided communications and vendor optimisations thereof. Writing a new communications library, ExaGS, which uses UPC has shown some initially promising results. As we further develop this library, we see opportunities to extend this further, to other programming languages such as OpenSHMEM to give much greater flexibility across platforms.


Author: Dr. Julien Hoessler, McLaren


One of our goals here in McLaren as industrial partners is to demonstrate that the algorithms developed within the ExaFLOW consortium will potentially help improve the accuracy and/or throughput of our production CFD simulations on complex geometries. To that end, we provided a demonstration case, referred to as McLaren Front wing, based on the McLaren 17D, and representative of one of the major points of interest in Formula 1, i.e. the interaction of vortical structures generated by the front wing endplate with the front wheel wake.

Figure 1: McLaren Front wing, initial run in Nek++

Author: Christian Jacobs, University of Southampton


Explicit finite difference (FD) algorithms lie at the core of many CFD models in order to solve the governing equations of fluid motion. Over the past decades huge efforts have been made by CFD model developers throughout the world to rewrite the implementation of these algorithms, in order to exploit new and improved computer hardware (for example, GPUs). Numerical modellers must therefore be proficient not only in their domain of expertise, but also in numerical analysis and parallel computing techniques.

As a result of this largely unsustainable burden on the numerical modeller, recent research has focussed on code generation as a way of automatically deriving code that implements numerical algorithms from a high-level problem specification. Modellers need only be concerned about writing the equations to be solved and choosing the appropriate numerical algorithm, and not about the specifics of the parallel implementation of the algorithm on a particular hardware architecture; this latter task is handled by computer scientists. A separation of concerns is therefore created, which is an important step towards the sustainability of CFD models as newer hardware arrives in the run-up to exascale computing.

As part of the ExaFLOW project, researchers at the University of Southampton have developed the OpenSBLI framework [1] ( ) which features such automated code generation techniques for finite difference algorithms. The flexibility that code generation provides has enabled them to investigate the performance of several FD algorithms that are characterised by different amounts of computational and memory intensity.

Author: Patrick Vogler, IAG, University of Stuttgart


The steady increase of available computer resources has enabled engineers and scientists to use progressively more complex models to simulate a myriad of fluid flow problems. Yet, whereas modern high performance computers (HPC) have seen a steady growth in computing power, the same trend has not been mirrored by a significant gain in data transfer rates. Current systems are capable of producing and processing high amounts of data quickly, while the overall performance is oftentimes hampered by how fast a system can transfer and store the computed data. Considering that CFD (computational fluid dynamics) researchers invariably seek to study simulations with increasingly higher temporal resolution on fine grained computational grids, the imminent move to exascale performance will consequently only exacerbate this problem. [6]

Author: Martin Vymazal, Imperial College London


High-order methods on unstructured grids are now increasingly being used to improve the accuracy of flow simulations since they simultaneously provide geometric flexibility and high fidelity. We are particularly interested in efficient algorithms for incompressible Navier-Stokes equations that employ high-order space discretization and a time splitting scheme. The cost of one step in time is largely determined by the amount of work needed to obtain the pressure field, which is defined as a solution to a scalar elliptic problem. Several Galerkin-type methods are available for this task, each of them have specific advantages and drawbacks.

High-order continuous Galerkin (CG) method is the oldest. Compared to its discontinuous counterparts, it involves a smaller number of unknowns (figure 1), especially in a low-order setting. The CG solution can be accelerated by means of static condensation, which produces a globally coupled system involving only those degrees of freedom on the mesh skeleton. The element interior unknowns are subsequently obtained from the mesh skeleton data by solving independent local problems that do not require any parallel communication.