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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dense and Sparse Matrix Operations on the Cell Processor


The slowing pace of commodity microprocessor performance improvements combined with ever-increasing chip power demands has become of utmost concern to computational scientists. Therefore, the high performance computing community is examining alternative architectures that address the limitations of modern superscalar designs. In this work, we examine STI's forthcoming Cell processor: a novel, low-power architecture that combines a PowerPC core with eight independent SIMD processing units coupled with a software-controlled memory to offer high FLOP/s/Watt. Since neither Cell hardware nor cycle-accurate simulators are currently publicly available, we develop an analytic framework to predict Cell performance on dense and sparse matrix operations, using a variety of algorithmic approaches. Results demonstrate Cell's potential to deliver more than an order of magnitude better GFLOP/s per watt performance, when compared with the Intel Itanium2 and Cray X1 processors.

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