Biological and Environmental Research - Earth and Environmental System Sciences
Earth and Environmental System Modeling

Efficiency and Flexibility using Implicit Methods within Atmosphere Dycores

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 - 16:45
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A suite of explicit and implicit methods are evaluated for a range of configurations of the shallow water dynamical core within the spectral-element Community Atmosphere Model (CAM-SE) to explore their relative computational performance. The configurations are designed to explore the attributes of each method under different but relevant model usage scenarios including varied spectral order within an element, static regional refinement, and scaling to large problem sizes. The limitations and benefits of using explicit versus implicit, with different discretizations and parameters, are discussed in light of trade-offs such as MPI communication, memory, and inherent efficiency bottlenecks. For the regionally refined shallow water configurations, the implicit BDF2 method is about the same efficiency as an explicit Runge-Kutta method, without including a preconditioner. Performance of the implicit methods with the residual function executed on a GPU is also presented; there is speed up for the residual relative to a CPU, but overwhelming transfer costs motivate moving more of the solver to the device. Given the performance behavior of implicit methods within the shallow water dynamical core, the recommendation for future work using implicit solvers is conditional based on scale separation and the stiffness of the problem. The strong growth of linear iterations with increasing resolution or time step size is the main bottleneck to computational efficiency. Within the hydrostatic dynamical core, of CAM-SE, we present results utilizing approximate block factorization preconditioners implemented using the Trilinos library of solvers. They reduce the cost of linear system solves and improve parallel scalability. We provide a summary of the remaining efficiency considerations within the preconditioner and utilization of the GPU, as well as a discussion about the benefits of a time stepping method that provides converged and stable solutions for a much wider range of time step sizes. As more complex model components, for example new physics and aerosols, are connected in the model, having flexibility in the time stepping will enable more options for combining and resolving multiple scales of behavior.

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