This paper demonstrates how HPC can be used in real time to tune the operation of particle accelerators, which are invaluable tools for research in the basic and applied sciences, in fields such as materials science, chemistry, the biosciences, particle physics, nuclear physics and medicine. The design, commissioning, and operation of accelerator facilities is a non-trivial task, due to the large number of control parameters and the complex interplay of several conflicting design goals.
The team from IBM Research, Paul Scherrer Institute and ETH Zürich, achieved strong and weak scalability improvement on BlueGene/P of two orders of magnitude for the most heavily used component of the optimization framework, which computes the evolving shape of the bunches of particles in the beam. This enables thousands of such calculations to be performed in a matter of minutes, creating close to on-line optimization capability.
"This paper shows how HPC can make an impact, not just through huge calculations, but through sheer speed, by parallelizing a code so efficiently that it can be used to optimize the operation of a complex instrument like a particle accelerator in real time", stated Prof. Richard Kenway, Chairman of the PRACE Scientific Steering Committee. The PRACE award was presented during the ISC'12 Opening Session on Monday, June 18. The winner will receive sponsorship for participation in a training event or a conference relevant to petascale computing.