Improving Performance and Energy Efficiency of Heterogeneous Systems with rCUDA

Javier Prades Gasulla
Departamento de Sistemas Informáticos y Computación, Universitat Politècnica de València
Universitat Politècnica de València, 2021


   title={Improving Performance and Energy Efficiency of Heterogeneous Systems with rCUDA},

   author={Prades Gasulla, Javier},


   school={Universitat Polit{`e}cnica de Val{`e}ncia}


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In the last decade the use of GPGPU (General Purpose computing in Graphics Processing Units) has become extremely popular in data centers around the world. GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) have been established as computational accelerators that are used alongside CPUs to form heterogeneous systems. The massively parallel nature of GPUs, traditionally intended for graphics computing, allows to perform numerical operations with data arrays at high speed. This is achieved thanks to the large number of cores GPUs integrate and the large bandwidth of memory access. Consequently, applications of all kinds of fields, such as chemistry, physics, engineering, artificial intelligence, materials science, and so on, presenting this type of computational patterns are benefited by drastically reducing their execution time. In general, the use of computing acceleration provided by GPUs has meant a step forward and a revolution, but it is not without problems, such as energy efficiency problems, low utilization of GPUs, high acquisition and maintenance costs, etc. In this PhD thesis we aim to analyze the main shortcomings of these heterogeneous systems and propose solutions based on the use of remote GPU virtualization. To that end, we have used the rCUDA middleware, developed at Universitat Politècnica de València. Many publications support rCUDA as the most advanced remote GPU virtualization framework nowadays. The results obtained in this PhD thesis show that the use of rCUDA in Cloud Computing environments increases the degree of freedom of the system, as it allows to create virtual instances of the physical GPUs fully tailored to the needs of each of the virtual machines. In HPC (High Performance Computing) environments, rCUDA also provides a greater degree of flexibility in the use of GPUs throughout the computing cluster, as it allows the CPU part to be completely decoupled from the GPU part of the applications. In addition, GPUs can be on any node in the cluster, regardless of the node on which the CPU part of the application is running. In general, both for Cloud Computing and in the case of HPC, this greater degree of flexibility translates into an up to 2x increase in system-wide throughput while reducing energy consumption by approximately 15%. Finally, we have also developed a job migration mechanism for the GPU part of applications that has been integrated within the rCUDA middleware. This migration mechanism has been evaluated and the results clearly show that, in exchange for a small overhead of about 400 milliseconds in the execution time of the applications, it is a powerful tool with which, again, we can increase productivity and reduce energy foot print of the computing system. In summary, this PhD thesis analyzes the main problems arising from the use of GPUs as computing accelerators, both in HPC and Cloud Computing environments, and demonstrates how thanks to the use of the rCUDA middleware these problems can be addressed. In addition, a powerful GPU job migration mechanism is being developed, which, integrated within the rCUDA framework, becomes a key tool for future job schedulers in heterogeneous clusters.
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