Alumnus to Head Co-design Center

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE CSGF) alumnus will head one of four new projects paving the way for the next generation of supercomputers.

Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Tim Germann, a DOE CSGF recipient from 1992-1995, is principal investigator for the Co-design center for Particle Applications (CoPA). The center is part of a four-year, $48 million program announced this month by DOE’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP). ECP is an effort to plan and build machines and software capable of a quintillion (1018) math calculations per second, or an exaflops. That’s 50 times faster than today’s most powerful machines.

In co-design, software developers, system engineers and application experts collaborate to create new computers. The process helps ensure that future exascale applications reflect interactions and trade-offs associated with many new and often conflicting design options, letting applications address problems currently out of reach, an Argonne National Laboratory release says.

CoPA will be a centralized clearinghouse for particle-based ECP applications, using proxy applications to put forward requirements and evaluate potential uses and benefits of ECP hardware and software. Particle-based simulation approaches are ubiquitous in computational science and engineering. The center will develop best practices in code portability, data layout and movement, and performance optimization. The ultimate goal is to create scalable, open exascale software platforms a variety of particle-based simulations can use.

Germann also has led the Exascale Co-Design Center for Materials in Extreme Environments (ExMatEx), one of three Exascale Co-Design Centers. It has focused on models of two intense environments: mechanical extremes, such as shock compression and high strain-rate loads – conditions found in nuclear weapons and space – and high-radiation, like what nuclear reactor materials endure.

The ECP is a collaboration involving two DOE organizations: The Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration. It was established to develop a capable exascale ecosystem, encompassing applications, system software, hardware technologies and architectures and workforce development to meet the scientific and national security mission needs of DOE in the mid-2020s.