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Damien Dosimont

Researcher at BSC

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We describe on this page how to use the parallel I/O feature newly implemented into Alya.


Beside enabling MPI, nothing in particular is required to compile Alya with the parallel I/O feature.

Classic configuration

Follow the classic configuration procedure:

Go into the compilation directory:

$ cd Executables/unix

Edit config.in according to your needs and/or copy it from configure.in.

Configure. For instance to compile Alya with nastin:

$ ./configure -x parall nastin

Be sure to remove existing object files:

$ make clean

Compile metis:

$ make metis4


$ make -j4

Note that the parallel I/O feature is currently incompatible with the -DI8 compiler option.

Benchmarking parallel I/O

You may want to record some statistics about the time passed in each I/O operation. In this case, you have to add the following line to the config.in file before executing configure:


Convert your mesh file

The parallel I/O feature requires a specific file format. This format is used for the mesh description as well as for the fields (input, post process or restart files). Consequently, it is necessary to convert the ascii input file describing the mesh into this new format.

You can use the Alya to MPI-IO tool available here. Be sure to install all the required dependencies (boost, mpi, vtk). Compile it as follow:

$ git clone https://github.com/dosimont/alya-mpio-tools.git
$ cd alya-mpio-tools
$ mkdir -p build
$ cd build
$ cmake ..
$ make

Eventually, you may want to install it:

$ sudo make install

Refer to CMake’s documentation to change the installation path or the compilation options…

Once you have installed the tool, convert your mesh file as follow:

$ alya2mpio [case-name]

case-name defines the string used to name the output files.

Running the tool will generate several files with the extension .mpio.bin. Note that the tool only considers the following fields for the moment:


The remaining data is exported to the file case-name.mpio.geo. In the domain file .dom.dat, you must replace the include of the original geometry-file by an include of this file.


  INCLUDE ./geometry-file


  INCLUDE ./case-name.mpio.geo

Configure the .dat file

In order to enable the parallel I/O feature during Alya’s execution, you have to modify your main .dat file. Here, an example of the PARALL_SERVICE section:

  IO:                   On
    READING:            On
    REORDERING:         On
    RESTART:            On
  PARTITION:            FACES
    METHOD:              METIS 4

IO section

To activate the parallel I/O, you need to define the IO section inside the PARALLEL_SERVICE section

  IO:                   On
    READING:            On
    REORDERING:         On
    RESTART:            On

The field READING enables (ON) or disables (OFF) the parallel reading of the mesh file. The field REORDERING enables (ON) or disables (OFF) the parallel writing of a renumbered mesh. This renumbered mesh is generated after the partition. The field RESTART enables (ON) or disables (OFF) the parallel writing and reading of the postprocess and restart files.

Note that this option will erase the post/restart format specification, since only the MPIO binary format is compatible with the parallel I/O.

The field COMMUNICATOR specifies the strategy to define the communicator responsible for the input mesh file reading. You can choose between ALL and SFC. All will select all the processes to perfom the mesh reading while SFC will only use a subset of the processes in coherency with the SFC partitioning. If the partitioning method defined in the section PARTITIONING is SFC, it is strongly advised to select SFC in the IO section COMMUNICATOR field too.

Note that the SFC communicator strategy is compatible with any of the partitioning techniques (METIS, etc.) but not recommended if you do not use the SFC partioning.

It seems that the SFC may be bugged for certain values of process number. I advise you to launch alya with n²+1 processes when using SFC.

Note that the writing and reading of the postprocess and restart files use Alya’s default communicator, involving all the processes. Currently, it cannot be modified.

Use at least 3 processes to launch Alya when MPI-IO is enabled.

Convert the output file to vtk

Once you run Alya, it will generate post-processed and restart files (all the files generated using MPI-IO have the extension .mpio.bin). These files contain data about the mesh, which has been rewritten by Alya, and about fields (pressure, velocity, etc.). Since .mpio.bin is a format exclusive to Alya, you certainly will need to convert the files to another format to visualize them. The alya-mpio-tools set proposes a vtk converter.

$ mpirun -np [n] mpio2vtk -r [case-name]

will convert the post-processed mesh files and the fields to vtk files. Be sure to set [n] to at least the number of processes -1 used to perform the simulation, since the mpio.bin files have subdomains. The easiest is to run the tool just after the simulation. In the future version, we’ll take to get rid of this limitation.