STFC oneAPI Centre of Excellence to Accelerate Exascale Software in Computational Fluid Dynamics and Code Coupling
20 Sep 2022



The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Scientific Computing Department (SCD) has established a new oneAPI Centre of Excellence in collaboration with Intel.


​​​​​​​​​​​​Image​ produced by Prof. Sylvain Laizet: Part of a high-fidelity simulation of a full-scale offshore wind farm during operation, generated using the Xcompact3d software.


​This will accelerate exascale software development on multi-architecture systems using the Khronos SYCL standard and the oneAPI open, cross-architecture programming model. A team of computational scientists within SCD will lead and develop the Centre and its activities.

The new Centre, which will be based at STFC's Daresbury Laboratory, will focus on optimising two prominent open source HPC software codes: a C++ coupling library called the Multiscale Universal Interface (MUI); and a high-fidelity Computational Fluid Dynamics code called Xcompact3d. Both are integral within the UK's ExCALIBUR exascale programme and are part of its landscape for developing future exascale computing capabilities, providing accelerated computing platforms able to handle upwards of a trillion of calculations per second.​​

A real-world example where this could be applied is the modelling of active wind turbines, to explore how the shape and speed of their blades and the flow of the air around them affect each other. The aim is to understand and develop the most effective design for maximum energy generation.   Traditionally, this would be achieved using two separate pieces of code – one for the deformation of the blades and one for the airflow. By using a code-coupling library like MUI, it is possible to glue these codes together to provide a highly accurate single modelling system.

​Dr Barbara Montanari, SCD's Head of Computational Science and Engineering and Director of CoSeC, says, “Making these codes accessible to more scientists will increase significantly the scope and speed of their research, with benefits in terms of scientific advancements as well as effective use of investments in the digital research infrastructure. I am delighted that Intel has chosen to partner with us, and together we shall deliver the tools needed to improve the technology for research communities."​​

Two of STFC's Principal Computational Scientists, Dr Charles Moulinec and Dr Stephen Longshaw, will lead the oneAPI Centre's software development. They will explore the adaptability of MUI and Xcompact3d through integrating cross-architecture capabilities via oneAPI's libraries and its SYCL Data Parallel C++ implementation to accelerate existing code.

A key driver for both MUI and Xcompact3d is to explore direct utilisation of the SYCL standard to enable efficient use of complex exascale supercomputers. Moulinec and Longshaw elaborate, saying, “A computationally intensive part of using MUI to couple scientific codes can come from its spatial interpolation subroutines. We are particularly interested in exploring the use of SYCL to redevelop key parts of both MUI and Xcompact3d. If we can achieve that, we will likely enable better performance for both codes using heterogeneous computing hardware."

The oneAPI Centre will explore using the SYCLomatic tool to migrate x3div (a CUDA-based mini-application derived directly from Xcompact3d) to SYCL - extending support to multiple vendors' architectures. The MUI coupling library relies heavily on complex templated programming techniques, so it is a challenge to optimise for traditional CPU performance and data-access patterns for GPU acceleration. The Centre will accelerate computationally significant aspects of MUI, such as its spatial interpolation capabilities, using SYCL on CPUs and Intel Xe architecture GPUs.

The STFC oneAPI Centre of Excellence will make the developed technologies available to more users, and will open the door to other research communities. These include those supported through the cross-UKRI Computational Science Centre for Research Communities (CoSeC), as well as the wider ExCALIBUR exascale community, and potentially will lead to more industry partnerships.

“The Science and Technology Facilities Council's work optimising CFD and coupling codes using oneAPI and SYCL provides the ability to run on multiple architectures across multiple vendors, advancing heterogeneous exascale computing. We look forward to the Centre sharing these insights with the broader research and exascale communities to further open accelerated compute across a broad range of usages." says Scott Apeland, senior director of Intel Developer Ecosystem Programs.

Contact for more information: 

Marion O'Sullivan,SCD Communications                                                                                                                                                        Email:


About STFC

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is part of UK Research and Innovation – the UK body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. STFC funds and supports research in particle and nuclear physics, astronomy, gravitational research and astrophysics, and space science and also operates a network of five national laboratories, including the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the Daresbury Laboratory, as well as supporting UK research at a number of international research facilities including CERN, FERMILAB, the ESO telescopes in Chile and many more.  Visit for more information.

STFC's Scientific Computing Department (SCD) is one of the UK's leading centres of expertise in science and data-intensive science, and home to sophisticated high-performance hardware. It has around 250 computational scientists, software engineers and project support staff – and is rapidly growing to meet the ever-increasing demand for innovative software solutions, digital research infrastructure and computational expertise in a variety of disciplines.

About Intel oneAPI

oneAPI is an open, unified and cross-architecture programming model for CPUs and accelerator architectures (GPUs, FPGAs, and others). Based on standards, the programming model simplifies software development and delivers uncompromised performance for accelerated compute without proprietary lock-in, while enabling the integration of existing code. With oneAPI, developers can choose the best architecture for the specific problem they are trying to solve without rewriting software for the next architecture and platform.​

The MUI general purpose code coupling library is jointly developed by STFC, Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory, Brown University and IBM Research.

SYCL is a higher-level programming model to improve programming productivity on various hardware accelerators. 

Find out more about the ExCALIBUR exascale programme

Find out more about CoS​eC

Contact: O'Sullivan, Marion (STFC,RAL,SC)