Parallel Sn Sweeps on Unstructured Grids: Algorithms for Prioritization, Grid Partitioning, and Cycle-Detection

S. J. Plimpton, B. Hendrickson, S. Burns, W. Mclendon III, L. Rauchwerger, Nuclear Science and Engineering, 150, 267-283 (2005).

The method of discrete ordinates is commonly used to solve the Boltzmann transport equation. The solution in each ordinate direction is most efficiently computed by sweeping the radiation flux across the computational grid. For unstructured grids this poses many challenges, particularly when implemented on distributed-memory parallel machines where the grid geometry is spread across processors. We present several algorithms relevant to this approach: (a) an asynchronous message-passing algorithm that performs sweeps simultaneously in multiple ordinate directions, (b) a simple geometric heuristic to prioritize the computational tasks that a processor works on, (c) a partitioning algorithm that creates columnar-style decompositions for unstructured grids, and (d) an algorithm for detecting and eliminating cycles which sometimes exist in unstructured grids and can prevent sweeps from successfully completing. Algorithms (a) and (d) are fully parallel; algorithms (b) and (c) can be used in conjunction with (a) to achieve higher parallel efficiencies. We describe our message-passing implementations of these algorithms within a radiation transport package. Performance and scalability results are given for unstructured grids with up to 3 million elements (500 million unknowns) running on thousands of processors of Sandia's Intel Tflops machine and DEC-Alpha CPlant cluster.

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