[Beowulf] GP-GPU experience

Herbert Fruchtl herbert.fruchtl at st-andrews.ac.uk
Mon Apr 4 08:15:35 PDT 2011

They hear great success stories (which in reality are often prototype 
implementations that do one carefully chosen benchmark well), then look at the 
API, look at their existing code, and postpone the start of their project until 
they have six months spare time for it. And we know when that is.

The current approach with more or less vendor specific libraries (be they "open" 
or not) limits the uptake of GPU computing to a few hardcore developers of 
experimental codes who don't mind rewriting their code every two years. It won't 
become mainstream until we have a compiler that turns standard Fortran (or C++, 
if it has to be) into GPU code. Anything that requires more change than let's 
say OpenMP directives is doomed, and rightly so.


> I've installed 4 GPU-equipped servers in my environment; 2 are a part of
> my cluster, and 2 are independent from the cluster so that users can
> login interactively and program/debug/tinker/whatever. (My cluster
> doesn't allow interactive logins by design).
> A handful of users were interested in getting access to the GPUs, but so
> far, not a single one has even logged into these systems to kick the
> tires yet, and the systems have been online for approx. 9 months. It
> just be that they're busy with other work. Most of my users are
> post-docs who guide their own research, so they can create/modify their
> own project schedules as they see fit.

Herbert Fruchtl
Senior Scientific Computing Officer
School of Chemistry, School of Mathematics and Statistics
University of St Andrews
The University of St Andrews is a charity registered in Scotland:
No SC013532

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