Model-based optimization of MPDATA on Intel Xeon Phi through load imbalancing

Alexey Lastovetsky, Lukasz Szustak, Roman Wyrzykowski
University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Irleand
arXiv:1507.01265 [cs.DC], (5 Jul 2015)


   title={Model-based optimization of MPDATA on Intel Xeon Phi through load imbalancing},

   author={Lastovetsky, Alexey and Szustak, Lukasz and Wyrzykowski, Roman},






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Load balancing is a widely accepted technique for performance optimization of scientific applications on parallel architectures. Indeed, balanced applications do not waste processor cycles on waiting at points of synchronization and data exchange, maximizing this way the utilization of processors. In this paper, we challenge the universality of the load-balancing approach to optimization of the performance of parallel applications. First, we formulate conditions that should be satisfied by the performance profile of an application in order for the application to achieve its best performance via load balancing. Then we use a real-life scientific application, MPDATA, to demonstrate that its performance profile on a modern parallel architecture, Intel Xeon Phi, significantly deviates from these conditions. Based on this observation, we propose a method of performance optimization of scientific applications through load imbalancing. We also propose an algorithm that finds the optimal, possibly imbalanced, configuration of a data parallel application on a set of homogeneous processors. This algorithm uses functional performance models of the application to find the partitioning that minimizes its computation time but not necessarily balances the load of the processors. We show how to apply this algorithm to optimization of MPDATA on Intel Xeon Phi. Experimental results demonstrate that the performance of this carefully optimized load-balanced application can be further improved by 15% using the proposed load-imbalancing optimization.
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