Single-domain multiple decompositions

The standard decomposition of the simulated domain consists in splitting the grid in rectangular “patches” that contain both fields and particles (see Parallelization basics). A new technique has been developed for Smilei, “Single-Domain Multiple Decompositions” (SDMD), where two decompositions are made:

  • Particles are still contained in the same small, rectangular patches.

  • Fields are contained in large, rectangular “regions”.

Each MPI process owns many patches but only (and exactly) one region. A single region extent therefore covers the equivalent of many patches allowing communication-less operations over a larger area.

Fields are simply communicated from regions to patches in order to interpolate their values at the particles locations. Inversely, currents and densities are communicated from patches to regions in order to solve Maxwell’s equations.

The region extents are always Cartesian and their size is as homogeneous as possible. The association between MPI processes and regions is dynamically reconsidered during the simulation if dynamic load balancing is used. The goal is to maximize the overlap between the region and the collection of patches owned by the MPI process at all times in order to reduce communication overhead.


  • The synchronization overhead induced by the use of very small patches is reduced.

  • Operations requiring many ghost cells (like large-stencil filters or spectral solvers) can be executed much more efficiently.

The benefits of SDMD are illustrated in this paper.