Performance Evaluation of Sparse Matrix Multiplication Kernels on Intel Xeon Phi

Erik Saule, Kamer Kaya, Umit V. Catalyurek
The Ohio State University, Department of Biomedical Informatics
arXiv:1302.1078 [cs.PF], (5 Feb 2013)


   author={Saule}, E. and {Kaya}, K. and {Catalyurek}, U.~V.},

   title={"{Performance Evaluation of Sparse Matrix Multiplication Kernels on Intel Xeon Phi}"},

   journal={ArXiv e-prints},




   keywords={Computer Science – Performance, Computer Science – Hardware Architecture},




   adsnote={Provided by the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System}


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Intel Xeon Phi is a recently released high-performance coprocessor which features 61 cores each supporting 4 hardware threads with 512-bit wide SIMD registers achieving a peak theoretical performance of 1Tflop/s in double precision. Many scientific applications involve operations on large sparse matrices such as linear solvers, eigensolver, and graph mining algorithms. The core of most of these applications involves the multiplication of a large, sparse matrix with a dense vector (SpMV). In this paper, we investigate the performance of the Xeon Phi coprocessor for SpMV. We first provide a comprehensive introduction to this new architecture and analyze its peak performance with a number of micro benchmarks. Although the design of a Xeon Phi core is not much different than those of the cores in modern processors, its large number of cores and hyperthreading capability allow many application to saturate the available memory bandwidth, which is not the case for many cutting-edge processors. Yet, our performance studies show that it is the memory latency not the bandwidth which creates a bottleneck for SpMV on this architecture. Finally, our experiments show that Xeon Phi’s sparse kernel performance is very promising and even better than that of cutting-edge general purpose processors and GPUs.
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