Code Optimization Techniques for Graphics Processing Units

Fernando Magno Quintao Pereira
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Instituto de Ciencias Exatas, Departamento de Ciencia da Computacao
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, 2011


   title={Code Optimization Techniques for Graphics Processing Units},

   author={Pereira, F.M.Q.},



Books on parallel programming theory often talk about such weird beasts like the PRAM model, a hypothetical hardware that would provide the programmer with a number of processors that is proportional to the input size of the problem at hand. Modern general purpose computers afford only a few processing units; four is currently a reasonable number. This limitation makes the development of highly parallel applications quite difficult to the average computer user. However, the low cost and the increasing programmability of graphics processing units, popularly know as GPUs, is contributing to overcome this difficulty. Presently, the application developer can have access, for a few hundred dollars, to a hardware boosting hundreds of processing elements. This brave new world that is now open to many programmers brings, alongside the incredible possibilities, also difficulties and challenges. Perhaps, for the first time since the popularization of computers, it makes sense to open the compiler books on the final chapters, which talk about very unusual concepts, such as polyhedral loops, iteration space and Fourier-Motskin transformations, only to name a few of these chimerical creatures. This material covers, in a very condensed way, some code generation and optimization techniques that a compiler would use to produce efficient code for graphics processing units. Through these techniques, the compiler writer tries to free the application developer from the intricacies and subtleties of GPU programming, giving him more freedom to focus on algorithms instead of micro-optimizations. We will discuss a little bit of what are GPUs, which applications should target them, how the compiler sees a GPU program and how the compiler can transform this program so that it will take more from this very powerful hardware.
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