Technical Note: Parallel implementation of the EGSnrc Monte Carlo simulation of ionizing radiation transport using OpenMP

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Abstract

Purpose:

To present the implementation of a new option for parallel processing of the EGSnrc Monte Carlo system using the OpenMP API, as an alternative to the provided method based on the use of a batch queuing system (BQS).

Methods:

The parallel solution presented, called OMP_EGS, makes use of OpenMP features to control the workload distribution between the compute units. These features were inserted into the original EGSnrc source code through properly defined macros. In order to validate the platform, the possibility of producing results in exact agreement with the serial implementation was assessed. The performance of OMP_EGS was evaluated against the BQS method, in terms of parallel speedup and efficiency.

Results:

As the OpenMP features can be activated or deactivated depending on the compilation options, the implementation of the platform allowed the direct recovery of the original serial implementation. The validation tests showed that OMP_EGS was able to reproduce the exact same results as the serial implementation. The performance and scalability tests showed that OMP_EGS is a better alternative than the EGSnrc BQS parallel implementation, both in terms of runtime and parallel efficiency.

Conclusions:

The presented solution has several advantages over the BQS-based parallel implementation available for the EGSnrc system. One of the main advantages is that, in contrast to the BQS alternative, it can be implemented using different compilers and operative systems, which turns it into a compact and portable solution that can be used on a wide range of working environments. It does not introduce artifacts on the simulated distributions, as it only handles the distribution of work among the available computing resources and it proved to have a better performance.

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