RAJA User Guide

RAJA is a software library of C++ abstractions, developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), that enable architecture and programming model portability for high performance computing (HPC) applications. RAJA has two main goals:

  1. To enable application portability with manageable disruption to algorithms and programming styles.
  2. To achieve performance comparable to using various programming models (e.g., OpenMP, CUDA, etc.) directly.

RAJA targets portable, parallel loop execution by providing building blocks that extend the generally-accepted parallel for idiom.

Background and Motivation

Many HPC applications must achieve high performance across a diverse range of computer architectures including: Mac and Windows laptops, parallel clusters of multicore commodity processors, and large-scale supercomputers with advanced heterogeneous node architectures that combine cutting edge CPU and accelerator (e.g., GPU) processors. Exposing fine-grained parallelism in a portable, high performance manner on varied and potentially disruptive architectures presents significant challenges to developers of large-scale HPC applications. This is especially true at US Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories where, for decades, large investments have been made in highly-scalable MPI-only applications that have been in service over multiple platform generations. Often, maintaining developer and user productivity requires the ability to build single-source application source code bases that can be readily ported to new architectures. RAJA is one C++-based programming model abstraction layer that can help to meet this performance portability challenge.

RAJA provides portable abstractions for simple and complex loops – as well as a variety of loop transformations, reductions, scans, atomic operations, data layouts and views, iteration spaces, etc. Currently available execution patterns supported by different programming model back-ends include: sequential, SIMD, NVIDIA CUDA, OpenMP CPU multi-threading and target offload. Support for Intel Threading Building Blocks (TBB) and AMD ROCm support are under development and considered experimental.

RAJA uses standard C++11 – C++ is the predominant programming language in many LLNL applications. RAJA requirements and design are rooted in a decades of developer experience working on production mesh-based multiphysics applications at LLNL. An important RAJA requirement is that application developers can specialize RAJA concepts for different code implementation patterns and C++ usage, since data structures and algorithms vary widely across applications.

RAJA helps developers insulate application loop kernels from underlying architecture and programming model-specific implementation details. Loop bodies and loop execution are decoupled using C++ lambda expressions (loop bodies) and C++ templates (loop execution methods). This approach promotes the perspective that developers should focus on tuning loop patterns rather than individual loops as much as possible. RAJA makes it relatively straightforward to parameterize an application using execution policy types so that it can be compiled in a specific configuration suitable to a given architecture.

Interacting with the RAJA Team

If you are interested in keeping up with RAJA development and communicating with developers and users, please join our Google Group, or contact the development team via email at raja-dev@llnl.gov

If you have questions, find a bug, have ideas about expanding the functionality or applicability, or wish to contribute to RAJA development, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are always interested in improving RAJA and exploring new ways to use it. A brief description of how the RAJA team operates can be found in Contributing to RAJA.

What’s In This Guide?

If you have some familiarity with RAJA and want to get up and running quickly, check out Getting Started With RAJA. This guide contains information about accessing the RAJA code, building it, and basic RAJA usage.

If you are completely new to RAJA, please check out the RAJA Tutorial. It contains a discussion of essential C++ concepts and will walk you through a sequence of code examples that show how to use key RAJA features.

See RAJA Features for a complete, high-level description of RAJA features (like a reference guide).

Additional information about things to think about when considering whether to use RAJA in an application can be found in Application Considerations.