Views from Intelligent Light
Brad Whitlock

Vote of Confidence

 

The Department of Energy (DOE) again recognized the value of Intelligent Light’s efforts to support innovation by awarding us a Phase IIB SBIR follow-on grant to continue promising R&D on integrating FieldView and VisIt. This brings the total to $2 million that has been committed to enable FieldView to use VisIt’s scalable back end server. Bringing FieldView and VisIt together will empower FieldView users across many disciplines to gain useful insights from the largest datasets generated on the largest computers. The FieldView-VisIt integration extends FieldView’s power into the High Performance Computing (HPC) regime and brings to bear exciting technologies from VisIt such as scalable rendering. Intelligent Light’s success during the Phase II SBIR grant has translated into useful improvements to the VisIt code today and there is more to come during the Phase IIB.

 

Whereas prior work on FieldView-VisIt integration focused on initial coupling techniques that allow the codes to exchange data, the new work seeks to address performance of the coupling as well as the performance of VisIt itself.  In the early days of VisIt development at LLNL, we had a lot of pressure to add features as opposed to making those features work with the utmost efficiency. This means that there are a lot of places where VisIt can be sped up considerably and otherwise improved.

 

Related: DOE Invites Intelligent Light to Present In Situ with VisIt, Libsim, & FieldView

 

Performance improvements are one of the main objectives in the new work. Some of that performance will come from better utilization of parallel resources. For instance, processing an ensemble of datasets or multiple time steps can be achieved through changes in how VisIt handles the data. We plan to make changes to VisIt’s core infrastructure that enable it to process multiple datasets simultaneously in parallel so we can use more compute cores to handle a lot of intermediate sized data. These large modifications will be challenging but we know that the DOE selected Intelligent Light for our ability to carry out demanding work like this, which will benefit the larger VisIt community.

 

On a personal note, this will be my first time as Principal Investigator on a project of this scale. I have been a VisIt developer from the start and a figure in the VisIt community so this is a great chance for me to continue making important contributions to a code I am passionate about.

Brad Whitlock

DOE Invites Intelligent Light to Present In Situ with VisIt, Libsim, and FieldView

 

The Department of Energy hosts an annual meeting called the Computer Graphics Forum which brings together leading visualization experts who carry out DOE-supported research. Experts from National Laboratories, Department of Defense Research Institutions, Universities and select companies are invited to present updates on their research.  Intelligent Light was invited for a special vendor participation session and gave a talk called “Promoting In Situ with VisIt, Libsim, and FieldView”.

 

Topics of interests selected by the DOE this year include: computer procurement, status updates for software packages, and research for in situ and parallel programming on advanced HPC systems.

 

Advanced HPC systems have special challenges as they are increasingly heterogeneous architectures (often consisting of CPUs plus accelerators such as GPUs) with deep memory hierarchies. Several talks focused on new programming paradigms that are being created to develop large code bases that are both portable and efficient on heterogeneous architectures.

 

In situ was also a prominent research topic. In situ brings data analysis and visualization into solvers as they run, enabling them to extract information from the resident data so that more concentrated data can be written out. Saving smaller, more concentrated data is important because HPC systems have far higher compute capacity than I/O bandwidth and storage needed to store full results.

 

Related: DOE Awards Follow-On Grant for FieldView / VisIt Integration

Earl Duque

Wind Leaders Addressing Future Data Needs – Atmosphere to Electrons Initiative

I had the honor and pleasure to participate in the Atmosphere to Electrons Workshop hosted by the Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.  The focus of the initiative is on the use of computational simulation to improve understanding and performance predictions from the microscale to the mesoscale.

 

Penn_Schmitz_windturbine_F300x159

FieldView image published in paper: “Turbulence Transport Phenomena in the Wakes of Wind Turbines”, Earl Duque, Intelligent Light; Pankaj Jha and Jessica Bashioum and Sven Schmitz, The Pennsylvania State University

The event brought together leaders from the wind energy community including National Labs, Universities and Industry. The purpose was to map out the direction for simulating the performance of a wind turbine farm; capturing the temporal and spatial scales from meso-scale (kilometer and hours) down to the airfoil boundary layer scales (micron and milliseconds). Morning and afternoon sessions began with a topical plenary talk followed by working groups focused on the computation and modeling needs at different scales such as Park Scale, Turbine Scale and Airfoil Scale.

Wind Farm - FieldView image as published in "Wind Farm Simulations Using a Full Rotor Model for Wind Turbines", J. Sitaraman, D. Mavriplis, E. Duque AIAA Paper 2014-1086

Wind Farm – FieldView image as published in “Wind Farm Simulations Using a Full Rotor Model for Wind Turbines”, J. Sitaraman, D. Mavriplis, E. Duque
AIAA Paper 2014-1086

 

For me, it was clear that it will be essential to include in-situ data analysis methods and file I/O standards in order to work with the tremendous volumes of data that will be created and processed. This was recognized by many at the meeting.  The use of in-situ methods with FieldView and VisIt offers solutions to those grappling with the current data analysis bottlenecks.

 

FieldView image published in paper: "Turbulence Transport Phenomena in the Wakes of Wind Turbines", Earl Duque, Intelligent Light; Pankaj Jha and Jessica Bashioum and Sven Schmitz, The Pennsylvania State University

With the high-caliber people from government, academia, and industry converging on this challenging problem, the A2E initiative is making progress toward vast improvements in the understanding of the complex physics of wind flowing into and through wind farms.  DOE sees the potential to improve wind farm efficiency by 20% while drastically reducing operating costs for wind energy producers.

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