[Beowulf] cluster softwares supporting parallel CFD computing

Greg Lindahl greg.lindahl at qlogic.com
Fri Sep 8 17:04:13 PDT 2006

On Thu, Sep 07, 2006 at 01:15:01PM -0600, Eric W. Biederman wrote:

> I agree.  Taking an interrupt per message is clearly a loss.

Ah. So we're mostly in violent agreement!

> Polling is a reasonable approach for the short durations say 
> <= 1 milisecond, but it is really weird to explain that you can tell a
> MPI application has failed to receive a message because it's cpu
> utilization goes up.  Polling for seconds on end is a very rude thing
> to do on a multitasking OS.

This is very true. You'll find that many MPI implementations now get
this right, for example I've seen OpenMPI has a policy where you can
tell it to poll for a short time and then call yield(). Our MPI has
this as the default. It's a compromise which doesn't hurt performance
that often.

> The problem from what I can tell is that latency is fundamental, and mostly
> an artifact of the card implementation.  We are quickly reaching the
> point we won't be able to improve latency any more.

This is also very true. That's why we've moved on to attacking message
rate and short-message bandwidth. Good message rate at high core counts
is going to be even more important when we get 4 cores / socket.

You *can* get latency under 1 usec. But not much below 1 usec. And
while the T3E (everyone's favorite machine in hindsight) had shmem
latency down to 0.7 usec, its MPI latency was much higher.

> On the other hand it is my distinction impression the reason there is no
> opportunity cost from polling is that the applications have not been
> tuned as well as they could be.  In all other domains of programming
> synchronous receives are serious looked down upon.  I don't know why
> that should not apply to MPI codes as well.

It does apply, however, many parallel algorithms used today are
naturally blocking. Why?  Well, complicating your algorithm to overlap
communication and computation rarely gives a benefit in practice. So
anyone who's tried has likely become discouraged, and most people
haven't even tried.

-- greg

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