Exposing Errors Related to Weak Memory in GPU Applications

Tyler Sorensen, Alastair F. Donaldson
Imperial College London, UK
37th Annual ACM SIGPLAN Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI’16), 2016


   title={Exposing Errors Related to Weak Memory in GPU Applications},

   author={Sorensen, Tyler and Donaldson, Alastair F},



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We present the systematic design of a testing environment that uses stressing and fuzzing to reveal errors in GPU applications that arise due to weak memory effects. We evaluate our approach on seven GPUs spanning three Nvidia architectures, across ten CUDA applications that use fine-grained concurrency. Our results show that applications that rarely or never exhibit errors related to weak memory when executed natively can readily exhibit these errors when executed in our testing environment. Our testing environment also provides a means to help identify the root causes of such errors, and automatically suggests how to insert fences that harden an application against weak memory bugs. To understand the cost of GPU fences, we benchmark applications with fences provided by the hardening strategy as well as a more conservative, sound fencing strategy.
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