8.2.4. Multi-replica simulations

Several commands in LAMMPS run mutli-replica simulations, meaning that multiple instances (replicas) of your simulation are run simultaneously, with small amounts of data exchanged between replicas periodically.

These are the relevant commands:

  • neb for nudged elastic band calculations
  • prd for parallel replica dynamics
  • tad for temperature accelerated dynamics
  • temper for parallel tempering
  • fix pimd for path-integral molecular dynamics (PIMD)

NEB is a method for finding transition states and barrier energies. PRD and TAD are methods for performing accelerated dynamics to find and perform infrequent events. Parallel tempering or replica exchange runs different replicas at a series of temperature to facilitate rare-event sampling.

These commands can only be used if LAMMPS was built with the REPLICA package. See the Build package doc page for more info.

PIMD runs different replicas whose individual particles are coupled together by springs to model a system or ring-polymers.

This commands can only be used if LAMMPS was built with the USER-MISC package. See the Build package doc page for more info.

In all these cases, you must run with one or more processors per replica. The processors assigned to each replica are determined at run-time by using the -partition command-line switch to launch LAMMPS on multiple partitions, which in this context are the same as replicas. E.g. these commands:

mpirun -np 16 lmp_linux -partition 8x2 -in in.temper
mpirun -np 8 lmp_linux -partition 8x1 -in in.neb

would each run 8 replicas, on either 16 or 8 processors. Note the use of the -in command-line switch to specify the input script which is required when running in multi-replica mode.

Also note that with MPI installed on a machine (e.g. your desktop), you can run on more (virtual) processors than you have physical processors. Thus the above commands could be run on a single-processor (or few-processor) desktop so that you can run a multi-replica simulation on more replicas than you have physical processors.