6. Porting and validating CIME on a new platform

One of the first steps for many users is getting CIME-based models running on their local machine. This section describes that process.

6.1. Required libraries/packages

The machine needs to have:

  • a functioning MPI environment (unless you plan to run on a single core with the CIME mpi-serial library).
  • build tools gmake and cmake,
  • a netcdf library version 4.3 or newer built with the same compiler you will use for CIME.

A pnetcdf library is optional.

If you are using MPI, make sure you can run a basic MPI parallel program on your machine before you attempt a CIME port. You can use this MPI example to check.

6.2. An MPI example

It is usually very helpful to assure that you can run a basic mpi parallel program on your machine prior to attempting a CIME port. Understanding how to compile and run the program fhello_world_mpi.F90 shown here could potentially save many hours of frustration.

program fhello_world_mpi.F90
  use mpi
  implicit none
  integer ( kind = 4 ) error
  integer ( kind = 4 ) id
  integer p
  character(len=MPI_MAX_PROCESSOR_NAME) :: name
  integer clen
  integer, allocatable :: mype(:)
  real ( kind = 8 ) wtime

  call MPI_Init ( error )
  call MPI_Comm_size ( MPI_COMM_WORLD, p, error )
  call MPI_Comm_rank ( MPI_COMM_WORLD, id, error )
  if ( id == 0 ) then
     wtime = MPI_Wtime ( )

     write ( *, '(a)' ) ' '
     write ( *, '(a)' ) 'HELLO_MPI - Master process:'
     write ( *, '(a)' ) '  FORTRAN90/MPI version'
     write ( *, '(a)' ) ' '
     write ( *, '(a)' ) '  An MPI test program.'
     write ( *, '(a)' ) ' '
     write ( *, '(a,i8)' ) '  The number of processes is ', p
     write ( *, '(a)' ) ' '
  end if
  write ( *, '(a)' ) ' '
  write ( *, '(a,i8,a,a)' ) '  Process ', id, ' says "Hello, world!" ',name(1:clen)

  call MPI_Finalize ( error )
end program

As an example, on a MAC with 2 cores that has mpich with gnu fortran you would issue the following two commands:

> mpif90 fhello_world_mpi.F90 -o hello_world
> mpirun -np 2 ./hello_world

6.3. CESM Linux and Mac Support

The distribution of CESM includes machines called homebrew and centos7-linux in the file $CIMEROOT/config/cesm/machines/config_machines.xml. Please see the instructions in the file to create the directory structure and use these generic machine definitions.

6.4. Steps for porting

Porting CIME involves several steps. The first step is to define your machine. You can do this in one of two ways:

  1. You can edit $CIMEROOT/config/$model/machines/config_machines.xml and add an appropriate section for your machine.

  2. You can use your $HOME/.cime directory (see CIME user config directory). In particular, you can create a $HOME/.cime/config_machines.xml file with the definition for your machine. A template to create this definition is provided in $CIMEROOT/config/xml_schemas/config_machines_template.xml. More details are provided in the template file. In addition, if you have a batch system, you will also need to add a config_batch.xml file to your $HOME/.cime directory. All files in $HOME/.cime/ are appended to the xml objects that are read into memory from the $CIME/config/$model, where $model is either e3sm or cesm.


    If you use method (2), you can download CIME updates without affecting your machine definitions in $HOME/.cime.


    If you will be supporting many users on your new machine, then we recommend using method (1) and issuing a GitHub pull request with your machine updates.

In what follows we outline the process for method (2) above:

  • Create a $HOME/.cime directory and create a config_machines.xml file in that directory.

    This file contains all the information you must set in order to configure a new machine to be CIME-compliant.

    Fill in the contents of $HOME/.cime/config_machines.xml that are specific to your machine. For more details see the config_machines.xml file.

    Check to ensure that your config_machines.xml file conforms to the CIME schema definition by doing the following:

    xmllint --noout --schema $CIME/config/xml_schemas/config_machines.xsd $HOME/.cime/config_machines.xml
  • If you find that you need to introduce compiler settings specific to your machine, create a $HOME/.cime/config_compilers.xml file. The default compiler settings are defined in $CIME/config/$model/machines/config_compilers.xml. There is no template for config_compilers.xml.

  • If you have a batch system, you may also need to create a $HOME/.cime/config_batch.xml file. Out-of-the-box batch settings are set in $CIME/config/$model/machines/config_batch.xml.

  • Once you have defined a basic configuration for your machine in your $HOME/.cime xml files, run scripts_regression_test.py interactively. This test is found and must be run in the directory $CIMEROOT/scripts/tests/. This performs a number of basic unit tests starting from the simplest and working toward more complicated ones. If you have problems running scripts_regression_tests.py, see scripts_regression_tests.

After running those steps correctly, you are ready to try a case at your target compset and resolution.

6.5. Validating a CESM port with prognostic components

The following port validation is recommended for any new machine. Carrying out these steps does not guarantee the model is running properly in all cases nor that the model is scientifically valid on the new machine.

In addition to these tests, detailed validation should be carried out for any new production run. That means verifying that model restarts are bit-for-bit identical with a baseline run, that the model is bit-for-bit reproducible when identical cases are run for several months, and that production cases are monitored carefully as they integrate forward to identify any potential problems as early as possible.

Users are responsible for their own validation process, especially with respect to science validation.

These are the recommended steps for validating a port for the CESM model:

  1. Verify basic functionality of your port by performing the cheyenne “prealpha” tests on your machine. This can be done by issuing the following command:

    ./create_test --xml-category prealpha --xml-machine cheyenne --xml-compiler intel --machine <your_machine_name> --compiler <your_compiler_name>

    This command will run the prealpha tests defined for cheyenne with the intel compiler, but will run them on your machine with your compiler. These tests will be run in the $CIME_OUTPUT_ROOT. To see the results of tests, you need to do the following:

    > $CIME_OUTPUT_ROOT/cs.status.[testid]

    where testid was indicated in the output when calling create_test

  2. Carry out ensemble consistency tests:

    This is described in $CIMEROOT/tools/statistical_ensemble_test/README. The CESM-ECT (CESM Ensemble Consistency Test) determines whether a new simulation set up (new machine, compiler, etc.) is statistically distinguishable from an accepted ensemble. The ECT process involves comparing several runs (3) generated with the new scenario to an ensemble built on a trusted machine (currently cheyenne). The python ECT tools are located in the pyCECT subdirectory **$CIMEROOT/tools/statistical_ensemble_test/pyCECT.

    The verification tools in the CESM-ECT suite are:

    CAM-ECT: detects issues in CAM and CLM (12 month runs)

    UF-CAM-ECT: detects issues in CAM and CLM (9 time step runs)

    POP-ECT: detects issues in POP and CICE (12 month runs)

    Follow the instructions in the README file to generate three ensemble runs for any of the above tests that are most relevant to your port. Then please go to the CESM2 ensemble verification website, where you can upload your files and subsequently obtain a quick response as to the success or failure of your verification.

6.6. Performance tuning of a CESM port

Once you have performed the verification that your port is successful, you will want to determine the optimal pe-layout for your target configurations (i.e. compset/resolution combinations). See the file $CIMEROOT/tools/load_balancing_tools/README to understand how to utilize the load balancing utilty. This utility finds reasonable PE layouts for CIME-driven models. It will find these from timing files you provide or from runs done by the tool.

Once you are happy with the PE-layout for your target configuration, you can it to the relevant config_pes.xml file for the component that is responsible for generating the PE-layout for the target configuration (this is normally referred to as the “primary” component).

Timing summaries for every successful case run, are located in the case subdirectory $CASEROOT/timing. In addition, every cpl.log.timestamp output file contains diagnostic timing information. Search for tStamp in this file to see this information. The timing information is useful for tracking down temporal variability in model cost due to either inherent model variability cost (I/O, spin-up, seasonal, and so on) or hardware. The model daily cost generally is pretty constant unless I/O is written intermittently, such as at the end of the month.