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Embracing Heterogeneity: Parallel Programming for Changing Hardware

Michael D. Linderman, James Balfour, Teresa H. Meng, William J. Dally
Center for Integrated Systems and Computer Systems Laboratory, Stanford University
HotPar’09 Proceedings of the First USENIX conference on Hot topics in parallelism, 2009

@conference{linderman2009embracing,

   title={Embracing heterogeneity: parallel programming for changing hardware},

   author={Linderman, M.D. and Balfour, J. and Meng, T.H. and Dally, W.J.},

   booktitle={Proceedings of the First USENIX conference on Hot topics in parallelism},

   pages={3},

   year={2009},

   organization={USENIX Association}

}

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Computer systems are undergoing significant change: to improve performance and efficiency, architects are exposing more microarchitectural details directly to programmers. Software that exploits specialized accelerators, such as GPUs, and specialized processor features, such as software-controlled memory, exposes limitations in existing compiler and OS infrastructure. In this paper we propose a pragmatic approach, motivated by our experience with Merge [3], for building applications that will tolerate changing hardware. Our approach allows programmers to leverage different processor-specific or domain-specific toolchains to create software modules specialized for different hardware configurations, and it provides language mechanisms to enable the automatic mapping of the application to these processor-specific modules. We show this approach can be used to manage computing resources in complex heterogeneous processors and to enable aggressive compiler optimizations.
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