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COFFEE: an Optimizing Compiler for Finite Element Local Assembly

Fabio Luporini, Ana Lucia Varbanescu, Florian Rathgeber, Gheorghe-Teodor Bercea, J. Ramanujam, David A. Ham, Paul H.J. Kelly
Imperial College London
arXiv:1407.0904 [cs.MS], (4 Jul 2014)

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The numerical solution of partial differential equations using the finite element method is one of the key applications of high performance computing. Local assembly is its characteristic operation. This entails the execution of a problem-specific kernel to numerically evaluate an integral for each element in the discretized problem domain. Since the domain size can be huge, executing efficient kernels is fundamental. Their optimization is, however, a challenging issue. Even though affine loop nests are generally present, the short trip counts and the complexity of mathematical expressions make it hard to determine a single or unique sequence of successful transformations. Therefore, we present the design and systematic evaluation of COFFEE, a domain-specific compiler for local assembly kernels. COFFEE manipulates abstract syntax trees generated from a high-level domain-specific language for PDEs by introducing domain-aware composable optimizations aimed at improving instruction-level parallelism, especially SIMD vectorization, and register locality. It then generates C code including vector intrinsics. Experiments using a range of finite-element forms of increasing complexity show that significant performance improvement is achieved.
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