The Intel Hackathon to explore the Intel Optane memory was organized at Durham University in June 2019. The workshop consisted of a great balance of talks as well as hands-on experiences. A series of talks by experts from Intel introduced the new Optane memory system. The hands-on sessions were very intensive with a lot of help available from Intel and Durham staff.

Our team from CCFE (Culham Centre for Fusion Energy) consisted of three members – S.J Pamela, L. Anton and D. Samaddar. Our laboratory specializes in fusion research and with a goal of having fusion energy on a commercial grid, we work with a very wide range of complex simulation codes. Our codes differ from one another in terms of algorithms, data volume and data structures as well as the physics they solve. Our team therefore used a number of codes as test-beds at the hackathon. Jorek is a 3-D nonlinear MHD code solving very large sparse matrices. OpenMC is a Monte-Carlo code that can be very memory intensive when sampling a large number of particles. BOUT++ on the other hand is a code package that studies turbulence involving strongly coupled non-linearities and multiscale physics. GS2 is a widely used code solving gyrokinetic equations in fusion plasma.

The Hackathon provided the right setting with great networking opportunities to generate the initial tests and lead the way for further explorations. For example, the Optane memory mode was found to be very beneficial for JOREK when the matrix size was increased. All the applications from CCFE used at the Hackathon are representative of other codes used in fusion research – so the results should benefit a wider range of HPC users within the community.

  1. A low resolution 2D FEM grid for the JOREK code, with the third dimension represented by Fourier harmonics.
  2. A snapshot of plasma instabilities simulated by JOREK.


United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority