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Tarragon : a programming model for latency-hiding scientific computations

  • Author(s): Cicotti, Pietro;
  • et al.

In supercomputing systems, architectural changes that increase computational power are often reflected in the programming model. As a result, in order to realize and sustain the potential performance of such systems, it is necessary in practice to deal with architectural details and explicitly manage the resources to an increasing extent. In particular, programmers are required to develop code that exposes a high degree of parallelism, exhibits high locality, dynamically adapts to the available resources, and hides communication latency. Hiding communication latency is crucial to realize the potential of today's distributed memory machines with highly parallel processing modules, and technological trends indicate that communication latencies will continue to be an issue as the performance gap between computation and communication widens. However, under Bulk Synchronous Parallel models, the predominant paradigm in scientific computing, scheduling is embedded into the application code. All the phases of a computation are defined and laid out as a linear sequence of operations limiting overlap and the program's ability to adapt to communication delays. This thesis proposes an alternative model, called Tarragon, to overcome the limitations of Bulk Synchronous Parallelism. Tarragon, which is based on dataflow, targets latency tolerant scientific computations. Tarragon supports a task-dependency graph abstraction in which tasks, the basic unit of computation, are organized as a graph according to their data dependencies, i.e. task precedence. In addition to the task graph, Tarragon supports metadata abstractions, annotations to the task graph, to express locality information and scheduling policies to improve performance. Tarragon's functionality and underlying programming methodology are demonstrated on three classes of computations used in scientific domains: structured grids, sparse linear algebra, and dynamic programming. In the application studies, Tarragon implementations achieve high performance, in many cases exceeding the performance of equivalent latency-tolerant, hard coded MPI implementations. The results presented in this dissertation demonstrate that data-driven execution, coupled with metadata abstractions, effectively support latency tolerance. In addition, performance metadata enable performance optimization techniques that are decoupled from the algorithmic formulation and the control flow of the application code. By expressing the structure of the computation and its characteristics with metadata, the programmer can focus on the application and rely on Tarragon and its run-time system to automatically overlap communication with computation and optimize the performance

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