PTask: Operating System Abstractions To Manage GPUs as Compute Devices

Christopher J. Rossbach, Jon Currey, Mark Silberstein, Baishakhi Ray, Emmett Witchel
Microsoft Research
Proceedings of the 23rd ACM Symposium on Operating System Principles (SOSP), 2011


   title={PTask: Operating System Abstractions To Manage GPUs as Compute Devices},

   author={Rossbach, C.J. and Currey, J. and Silberstein, M. and Ray, B. and Witchel, E.},

   booktitle={Proc. of the ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles},



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We propose a new set of OS abstractions to support GPUs and other accelerator devices as first class computing resources. These new abstractions, collectively called the PTask API, support a data flow programming model. Because a PTask graph consists of OS-managed objects, the kernel has sufficient visibility and control to provide system-wide guarantees like fairness and performance isolation, and can streamline data movement in ways that are impossible under current GPU programming models. Our experience developing the PTask API, along with a gestural interface on Windows 7 and a FUSE-based encrypted file system on Linux show that the PTask API can provide important systemwide guarantees where there were previously none, and can enable significant performance improvements, for example gaining a 5x improvement in maximum throughput for the gestural interface.
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