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[ascl:1103.008] Parallel HOP: A Scalable Halo Finder for Massive Cosmological Data Sets

Modern N-body cosmological simulations contain billions ($10^9$) of dark matter particles. These simulations require hundreds to thousands of gigabytes of memory, and employ hundreds to tens of thousands of processing cores on many compute nodes. In order to study the distribution of dark matter in a cosmological simulation, the dark matter halos must be identified using a halo finder, which establishes the halo membership of every particle in the simulation. The resources required for halo finding are similar to the requirements for the simulation itself. In particular, simulations have become too extensive to use commonly-employed halo finders, such that the computational requirements to identify halos must now be spread across multiple nodes and cores. Here we present a scalable-parallel halo finding method called Parallel HOP for large-scale cosmological simulation data. Based on the halo finder HOP, it utilizes MPI and domain decomposition to distribute the halo finding workload across multiple compute nodes, enabling analysis of much larger datasets than is possible with the strictly serial or previous parallel implementations of HOP. We provide a reference implementation of this method as a part of the toolkit yt, an analysis toolkit for Adaptive Mesh Refinement (AMR) data that includes complementary analysis modules. Additionally, we discuss a suite of benchmarks that demonstrate that this method scales well up to several hundred tasks and datasets in excess of $2000^3$ particles. The Parallel HOP method and our implementation can be readily applied to any kind of N-body simulation data and is therefore widely applicable. Parallel HOP is part of yt.

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