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Considering GPGPU for HPC Centers: Is It Worth the Effort?

Hans Hacker, Carsten Trinitis, Josef Weidendorfer, Matthias Brehm
Department of Informatics, Technische Universitat Munchen, Germany
Facing the Multicore-Challenge, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2011, Volume 6310/2011, 118-130

@article{hacker2011considering,

   title={Considering GPGPU for HPC centers: is it worth the effort?},

   author={Hacker, H. and Trinitis, C. and Weidendorfer, J. and Brehm, M.},

   journal={Facing the multicore-challenge},

   pages={118–130},

   year={2011},

   publisher={Springer}

}

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In contrast to just a few years ago, the answer to the question "What system should we buy next to best assist our users" has become a lot more complicated for the operators of an HPC center today. In addition to multicore architectures, powerful accelerator systems have emerged, and the future looks heterogeneous. In this paper, we will concentrate on and apply the abovementioned question to a specific accelerator with its programming environment that has become increasingly popular: systems using graphics processors from NVidia, programmed with CUDA. Using three benchmarks encompassing main computational needs of scientific codes, we compare performance results with those obtained by systems with modern x86 multicore processors. Taking the experience from optimizing and running the codes into account, we discuss whether the presented performance numbers really apply to computing center users running codes in their everyday tasks.
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