Toward exascale whole-device modeling of fusion devices: Porting the GENE gyrokinetic microturbulence code to GPU

K. Germaschewski, B. Allen, T. Dannert, M. Hrywniak, J. Donaghy, G. Merlo, S. Ethier, E. D'Azevedo, F. Jenko, A. Bhattacharjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


GENE solves the five-dimensional gyrokinetic equations to simulate the development and evolution of plasma microturbulence in magnetic fusion devices. The plasma model used is close to first principles and computationally very expensive to solve in the relevant physical regimes. In order to use the emerging computational capabilities to gain new physics insights, several new numerical and computational developments are required. Here, we focus on the fact that it is crucial to efficiently utilize GPUs (graphics processing units) that provide the vast majority of the computational power on such systems. In this paper, we describe the various porting approaches considered and given the constraints of the GENE code and its development model, justify the decisions made, and describe the path taken in porting GENE to GPUs. We introduce a novel library called gtensor that was developed along the way to support the process. Performance results are presented for the ported code, which in a single node of the Summit supercomputer achieves a speed-up of almost 15 × compared to running on central processing unit (CPU) only. Typical GPU kernels are memory-bound, achieving about 90% of peak. Our analysis shows that there is still room for improvement if we can refactor/fuse kernels to achieve higher arithmetic intensity. We also performed a weak parallel scalability study, which shows that the code runs well on a massively parallel system, but communication costs start becoming a significant bottleneck.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number062501
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics


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