Incremental Parallelization of Non-Data-Parallel Programs Using the Charon Message-Passing Library
- VanderWijngaart, Rob F.
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- Message passing is among the most popular techniques for parallelizing scientific programs on distributed-memory architectures. The reasons for its success are wide availability (MPI), efficiency, and full tuning control provided to the programmer. A major drawback, however, is that incremental parallelization, as offered by compiler directives, is not generally possible, because all data structures have to be changed throughout the program simultaneously. Charon remedies this situation through mappings between distributed and non-distributed data. It allows breaking up the parallelization into small steps, guaranteeing correctness at every stage. Several tools are available to help convert legacy codes into high-performance message-passing programs. They usually target data-parallel applications, whose loops carrying most of the work can be distributed among all processors without much dependency analysis. Others do a full dependency analysis and then convert the code virtually automatically. Even more toolkits are available that aid construction from scratch of message passing programs. None, however, allows piecemeal translation of codes with complex data dependencies (i.e. non-data-parallel programs) into message passing codes. The Charon library (available in both C and Fortran) provides incremental parallelization capabilities by linking legacy code arrays with distributed arrays. During the conversion process, non-distributed and distributed arrays exist side by side, and simple mapping functions allow the programmer to switch between the two in any location in the program. Charon also provides wrapper functions that leave the structure of the legacy code intact, but that allow execution on truly distributed data. Finally, the library provides a rich set of communication functions that support virtually all patterns of remote data demands in realistic structured grid scientific programs, including transposition, nearest-neighbor communication, pipelining, gather/scatter, and redistribution. At the end of the conversion process most intermediate Charon function calls will have been removed, the non-distributed arrays will have been deleted, and virtually the only remaining Charon functions calls are the high-level, highly optimized communications. Distribution of the data is under complete control of the programmer, although a wide range of useful distributions is easily available through predefined functions. A crucial aspect of the library is that it does not allocate space for distributed arrays, but accepts programmer-specified memory. This has two major consequences. First, codes parallelized using Charon do not suffer from encapsulation; user data is always directly accessible. This provides high efficiency, and also retains the possibility of using message passing directly for highly irregular communications. Second, non-distributed arrays can be interpreted as (trivial) distributions in the Charon sense, which allows them to be mapped to truly distributed arrays, and vice versa. This is the mechanism that enables incremental parallelization. In this paper we provide a brief introduction of the library and then focus on the actual steps in the parallelization process, using some representative examples from, among others, the NAS Parallel Benchmarks. We show how a complicated two-dimensional pipeline-the prototypical non-data-parallel algorithm- can be constructed with ease. To demonstrate the flexibility of the library, we give examples of the stepwise, efficient parallel implementation of nonlocal boundary conditions common in aircraft simulations, as well as the construction of the sequence of grids required for multigrid.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20010047490. and Tenth SIAM Conference on Parallel Processing for Scientific Computing; 12-14 Mar. 2001; Portsmouth, VA; United States.
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