Brokers - Multi-Protocol Brokers

This example shows how to configure a HELICS co-simulation to implement a broker structure that utilizes multiple core types in a single co-simulation. Typically, all federates in a single federation use the same core type (ZMQ by default) but HELICS can be set up to utilize different core types in the same federation

  • Where is the code?

  • What is this Co-simulation doing?

    • Differences Compared to the Fundamental Examples

      • HELICS Differences

    • HELICS Components

  • Execution and Results

Where is the code?

This example on multiple brokers can be found here. If you have issues navigating the examples, visit the HELICS Gitter page or the user forum on GitHub.

What is this co-simulation doing?

This example shows you how to configure a co-simulation to use more than one core type in the same federation. The example itself has the same functionality as the Advanced Default example as the only change is a structural to the federation and not the federate code itself.

Differences compared to the Advanced Default example

For this example, the Advanced Default example has been split up so that each federate uses a different core type in a single federation.

HELICS differences

Typically, all federates in a federation use the same core type. There can be cases, though, where a multi-site co-simulation with a more complex networking environment or performance requirements dictate the need for some federates to utilize a difference core type than others. For example, the IPC core utilizes a Boost library function to allow two executables both using Boost to communicate between themselves when running on the same compute node; since this is in-memory communication rather than over the network stack, performance is expected to be higher. It could be that a particular federation has been optimized to take advantage of this but must also communicate with federates on a separate compute node via ZMQ. In this case, a so-called “multibroker” can be configured to allow for the federation to run. (See the User Guide section on the multi-protocol broker and broker core types for further details.)

In this example, we won’t be doing anything like that but, for demonstration purposes, simply using the same federation from the Advanced Default example. and configuring it so each federate uses a different core type.

HELICS Components

To configure a multibroker, the broker configuration line is slightly extended from a traditional federation. From the HELICS runner configuration file multi_broker_runner.json

"exec": "helics_broker -f 3 --coreType=multi --config=multi_broker_config.json --name=root_broker",

The coreType of the broker is set to multi and a configuration file is specified. That file looks like this:

  "master": {
    "coreType": "test"
  "comms": [
      "coreType": "zmq",
      "port": 23500
      "coreType": "tcp",
      "port": 23700
      "coreType": "udp",
      "port": 23900

The first and most important note: master and comms are reserved words in this context and MUST be used. The master core type must be test but the core types for the federates can be any of the supported cores. Again, as in other similar examples, because we are running this on a single compute node, the port for each core type must be specified and the federates using those core types need to have the brokerPort property set to the corresponding core’s port number.


  "name": "Battery",
  "loglevel": 1,
  "coreType": "zmq",
  "brokerPort": 23500,


  "name": "Charger",
  "loglevel": 1,
  "coreType": "tcp",
  "brokerPort": 23700,


  "name": "Controller",
  "loglevel": 1,
  "coreType": "udp",
  "brokerPort": 23900,

Execution and Results

Unlike the other advanced broker examples, this one can be run with a single HELICS runner command:

$ helics run --path=./multi_broker_runner.json

As has been mentioned, since this is just a change to the co-simulation architecture, the results are identical to those in the Advanced Default example.

Questions and Help

Do you have questions about HELICS or need help?

  1. Come to office hours!

  2. Post on the gitter!

  3. Place your question on the github forum!