2011 Volume 6 Pages 2103056
This paper highlights the scientific and computational challenges facing the Fusion Simulation Program (FSP) - a major national initiative in the United States with the primary objective being to enable scientific discovery of important new plasma phenomena with associated understanding that emerges only upon integration. This requires developing a predictive integrated simulation capability for magnetically-confined fusion plasmas that are properly validated against experiments in regimes relevant for producing practical fusion energy. It is expected to provide a suite of advanced modeling tools for reliably predicting fusion device behavior with comprehensive and targeted science-based simulations of nonlinearly-coupled phenomena in the core plasma, edge plasma, and wall region on time and space scales required for fusion energy production. As such, it will strive to embody the most current theoretical and experimental understanding of magnetic fusion plasmas and to provide a living framework for the simulation of such plasmas as the associated physics understanding continues to advance over the next several decades. Substantive progress on answering the outstanding scientific questions in the field will drive the FSP toward its ultimate goal of developing the ability to predict the behavior of plasma discharges in toroidal magnetic fusion devices with high physics fidelity on all relevant time and space scales. From a computational perspective, this will demand computing resources in the petascale range and beyond together with the associated multi-core algorithmic formulation needed to address burning plasma issues relevant to ITER - a multibillion dollar collaborative experiment involving seven international partners representing over half the world's population. Even more powerful exascale platforms will be needed to meet the future challenges of designing a demonstration fusion reactor (DEMO). Analogous to other major applied physics modeling projects (e.g., Climate Modeling), the FSP will need to develop software in close collaboration with computers scientists and applied mathematicians and validated against experimental data from tokamaks around the world. Specific examples of expected advances needed to enable such a comprehensive integrated modeling capability and possible “co-design” approaches will be discussed.