The Plasma Simulation Code: A modern particle-in-cell code with patch-based load-balancing

Kai Germaschewski, William Fox, Stephen Abbott, Narges Ahmadi, Kristofor Maynard, Liang Wang, Hartmut Ruhl, Amitava Bhattacharjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


This work describes the Plasma Simulation Code (psc), an explicit, electromagnetic particle-in-cell code with support for different order particle shape functions. We review the basic components of the particle-in-cell method as well as the computational architecture of the psc code that allows support for modular algorithms and data structure in the code. We then describe and analyze in detail a distinguishing feature of psc: patch-based load balancing using space-filling curves which is shown to lead to major efficiency gains over unbalanced methods and a previously used simpler balancing method.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-326
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Numerical Analysis
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


  • Kinetic
  • Load balancing
  • Particle-in-cell
  • Plasma


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