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Accurate and efficient integration for molecular dynamics simulations at constant temperature and pressure
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In molecular dynamics simulations, control over temperature and pressure is typically achieved by augmenting the original system with additional dynamical variables to create a thermostat and a barostat, respectively. These variables generally evolve on timescales much longer than those of particle motion, but typical integrator implementations update the additional variables along with the particle positions and momenta at each time step. We present a framework that replaces the traditional integration procedure with separate barostat, thermostat, and Newtonian particle motion updates, allowing thermostat and barostat updates to be applied infrequently. Such infrequent updates provide a particularly substantial performance advantage for simulations parallelized across many computer processors, because thermostat and barostat updates typically require communication among all processors. Infrequent updates can also improve accuracy by alleviating certain sources of error associated with limited-precision arithmetic. In addition, separating the barostat, thermostat, and particle motion update steps reduces certain truncation errors, bringing the time-average pressure closer to its target value. Finally, this framework, which we have implemented on both general-purpose and special-purpose hardware, reduces software complexity and improves software modularity.
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