Journal cover Journal topic
Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/gmd-2016-247
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Development and technical paper
11 Nov 2016
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Geoscientific Model Development (GMD).
rpe v5: An emulator for reduced floating-point precision in large numerical simulations
Andrew Dawson and Peter Düben Atmospheric, Oceanic & Planetary Physics, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford UK
Abstract. This paper describes the rpe library which has the capability to emulate the use of arbitrary reduced floating-point precision within large numerical models written in Fortran. The rpe software allows model developers to test how reduced floating-point precision affects the result of their simulations without having to make extensive code changes or port the model onto specialised hardware. The software can be used to identify parts of a program that are problematic for numerical precision and to guide changes to the program to allow a stronger reduction in precision.

The development of rpe was motivated by the strong demand for more computing power. If numerical precision can be reduced for an application under consideration while still achieving results of acceptable quality, computational cost can be reduced, since a reduction in numerical precision may allow an increase in performance or a reduction in power consumption. For simulations with weather and climate models, savings due to a reduction in precision could be reinvested to allow model simulations at higher spatial resolution or complexity, or to increase the number of ensemble members to improve predictions. rpe was developed with particular focus on the community of weather and climate modelling, but the software could be used with numerical simulations from other domains.


Citation: Dawson, A. and Düben, P.: rpe v5: An emulator for reduced floating-point precision in large numerical simulations, Geosci. Model Dev. Discuss., doi:10.5194/gmd-2016-247, in review, 2016.
Andrew Dawson and Peter Düben
Andrew Dawson and Peter Düben
Andrew Dawson and Peter Düben

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Short summary
Weather and climate models must become more efficient if they are to continue growing in complexity. One option for reducing computational cost is to reduce numerical precision. We present a tool that allows users to study how models perform with reduced numerical precision. The tool is applied to a geophysical use case, where precision is heavily reduced while maintaining suitable accuracy. The tool can be applied to other models to determine if they can be made more computationally efficient.
Weather and climate models must become more efficient if they are to continue growing in...
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