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The ACTS Toolkit ( What can it do for you? ). Osni Marques and Tony Drummond ( LBNL/NERSC ) What is the ACTS Toolkit?. A dvanced C omputational T esting and S imulation Tools for development of parallel applications 21 tools developed (primarily) at DOE labs

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the acts toolkit what can it do for you

The ACTS Toolkit(What can it do for you?)

Osni Marques and Tony Drummond


what is the acts toolkit
What is the ACTS Toolkit?
  • Advanced Computational Testing and Simulation
  • Tools for development of parallel applications
    • 21 tools
    • developed (primarily) at DOE labs
    • originally conceived as autonomous tools
  • ACTS is an “umbrella” project
    • collect tools
    • leverage numerous independently funded projects


acts project goals
ACTS Project Goals
  • Bring software packages together into a “toolkit”
  • Make the software interoperable
  • Provide consistent application interfaces
  • Promote general solutions to parallel programming needs
  • Promote code reusability
  • Enable large scale applications
  • Impact DOE science


recent successful cases
Recent Successful Cases

Scattering in a quantum system of three charged particles (Rescigno, Baertschy, Isaacs and McCurdy, Dec. 24, 1999).

Cosmic Microwave Background Analysis, BOOMERanG collaboration, MADCAP code (Apr. 27, 2000).


nersc activities
NERSC Activities
  • Make ACTS tools available on NERSC platforms
  • Provide technical support (
  • Perform independent evaluation of tools
  • Maintain online ACTS information center
  • Identify new users who can benefit from toolkit
  • Work with users to integrate tools into applications


acts information online
ACTS Information Online
  • Information center
    • coordinated and integrated with developers resources
    • general information and pointers to documentation
  • User-oriented information
    • Which tool should I use to solve my problem?
    • Which tools are ready for prime time?
  • Reviews: strengths, weaknesses, caveats, etc


acts support
ACTS Support
  • Support at different levels
    • applications
    • code optimization
    • tool selection
    • tool utilization
    • tool installation
  • Leverage with developers
  • Minimize risk to users


tools categorization
Tools Categorization
  • Numerical
    • software that implements numerical algorithms
  • Structural (“frameworks”)
    • software that manages data, communication
  • Infra-structural
    • runtime, support tools, developer’s bag


numerical tools
Numerical Tools
  • Aztec: iterative methods for solving sparse linear systems
  • Hypre: collection of advanced preconditioners
  • Opt++: solution of nonlinear optimization problems
  • PETSc: methods for the solution of PDE related problems
  • PVODE: solvers for large systems of ODE’s
  • ScaLAPACK: dense linear algebra computations
  • SuperLU: direct methods for sparse linear systems


structural frameworks
Structural (Frameworks)
  • Global Arrays: portable, distributed array library, shared memory style of programming
  • Overture: library of grid functions which derives from P++ arrays
  • POET (Parallel Object-oriented Environment and Toolkit): allows for “mixing and matching” of components
  • POOMA (Parallel Object-Oriented Methods and Applications): C++ abstraction layer between algorithm and platform (similar to HPF)


infra structural
  • CUMULVS (Collaborative User Migration User Library for Visualization and Steering), PAWS (Parallel Application WorkSpace): computational steering, data post-processing, interactive visualization
  • Globus: infrastructure for high performance distributed computing (computational grids)
  • SILOON (Scripting Interface Languages for Object-Oriented Numerics): scripting features
  • TAU (Tuning and Analysis Utilities): advanced performance analysis and tuning


infra structural cont
Infra-structural (cont.)
  • Tulip: C++ applications with threads, global pointers and other parallel operations
  • ATLAS (Automatically Tuned Linear Algebra Software), PHiPAC (Portable High Performance ANSI C): automatic generation of optimized numerical software (mainly BLAS)
  • Nexus: multithreading, communication and resource management facilities
  • PADRE (Parallel Asynchronous Data and Routing Engine) : abstracts the details of representing and managing distributed data
  • PETE (Portable Expression Template Engine): efficient C++ operator overloading through expression templates


tool status at nersc
Tool Status at NERSC
  • Installed and supported (modules,T3E and SP)
    • Aztec
    • PETSc
    • ScaLAPACK
    • SuperLU
    • TAU
  • Known to have been used (T3E)
    • Global Arrays
    • Globus
    • POOMA
    • PVODE



Solves large sparse linear systems on distributed memory machines

Implements Krylov iterative methods (CG, CGS, Bi-CG-Stab, GMRES, TFQMR)

Suite of preconditioners (Jacobi, Gauss-Seidel, overlapping domain decomposition with sparse LU, ILU, BILU within domains)

Highly efficient, scalable (1000 processors on the “ASCI Red” machine)


aztec applications
Aztec (applications)

TOUGH2 (Transport Of Unsaturated Groundwater and Heat) code, transport simu-lation in porous and fractured media (LBNL).

Co-flowing Annular Jet Combuster, a parallel 3D pseudo-transient simulation to steady state operation; MPSalsa code (SNL).


aztec basic steps
Aztec (basic steps)
  • Prepare your linear system
    • distribute the matrix
    • call AZ_transform
    • set up right-hand side and initial guess
    • call AZ_reorder_vec on initial guess and right-hand side
  • selective an iterative solver and a preconditioner
  • call AZ_solve
  • call AZ_invorder_vec on solution



Linear and nonlinear solvers

Data structures for distributed vectors and sparse matrices

5 matrix storage formats

It has been integrated with Aztec

10+ Krylov iterative subspace methods

Preconditioners include Jacobi, additive overlapping Schwartz, parallel ILU(0), etc

Modular, object design methodology

C and Fortran interfaces

Can be used as a front end to other ACTS tools


petsc applications
PETSc (applications)

Multiphase flow, 4 million cell blocks, 32 million DOF, over 10.6 Gflops on an IBM SP (128 nodes), entire simulation runs in less than 30 minutes (Pope, Gropp, Morgan, Seperhrnoori, Smith and Wheeler).

Prometheus code (unstructured meshes in solid mechanics), 26 million DOF, 640 nodes on NERSC’s Cray T3E (Adams and Demmel).



Parallel version of LAPACK

Based on BLACS (Basic Linear Algebra Communication Subroutines)

Dense linear algebra (BLAS)

Direct solution of linear systems

Dense matrix eigensolvers


scalapack applications
ScaLAPACK (applications)

Induced current (white arrows) and charge density (colored plane and gray surface) in crystallized glycine due to an external field (Louie, Yoon, Pfrommer and Canning).

Cosmic Microwave Background Analysis, BOOMERanG collaboration, MADCAP code (Apr. 27, 2000).



Direct solution of large sparse linear systems

Shared and distributed memory implementations

Attained 8.3 Gflops on 512 nodes of the T3E


superlu applications
SuperLU (applications)

Scattering in a quantum system of three charged particles (Rescigno, Baertschy, Isaacs and McCurdy, Dec. 24, 1999).

SuperLU speedup (matrices dimension varying from 26028 to 120750).



Profiling of Fortran 90, C, C++, HPF, and HPC++ codes

Detailed information (much more than prof/gprof)

C++: per-class and per-instance profiling

Graphical display of profiling results (built-in viewers, interface to Vampir)


tau main control window
TAU (Main Control Window)
  • COSY: COmpile manager Status displaY
  • FANCY: File ANd Class displaY
  • CAGEY: CAll Graph Extended displaY
  • CLASSY: CLASS hierarchY browser
  • RACY: Routine and data ACcess profile displaY
  • SPEEDY: Speedup and Parallel Execution Extrapolation DisplaY


tau speedy


coming up
Coming up





PETE (summer student)

Survey of iterative linear solver packages


pvode and pooma

PVODE is being used in the ParFlow ground-water flow project to solve three-dimensional models of fluid flow and chemical transport through heterogeneous porous media (LNNL).

MC++ Monte Carlo neutron transport simulation written using the Tecolote framework, which is built atop POOMA, (ASCI Blanca project, LANL).


  • Provides means for creating a large scale computational grid
  • A toolkit of core services with which applications can be developed to access the grid.
  • Operates with other ACTS tools (like CUMULVS, PAWS and Nexus)


globus cont
Globus (cont.)

NASA’s Information Power Grid (IPG)

joins supercomputers and storage devices owned by participating organizations into a single, seamless computing environment.

With a Globus-enabled X-ray microto-mography program a fully 3-D reconstruction of an ant head (2mm in diameter) was obtained in less than 10 minutes using the acquisition hardware at a beamline at ANL and an SGI Origin 2000 at NPACI.


future directions
Future Directions
  • CCA (Common Component Architecture)
    • Developing standardized ways of managing numerical components to allow mixing-and-matching
    • Frameworks for gluing components together
    • Similarities to CORBA, DCOM, Java Beans
    • Scientific interface description language (allowing Fortran)
  • ESI (Equation Solver Interface)
    • Developing standardized interfaces for scalable linear solvers
    • Specific test case for CCA component design