Improving GPU Performance Prediction with Data Transfer Modeling

Michael Boyer, Jiayuan Meng, Kalyan Kumaran
Department of Computer Science, University of Virginia
Third International Workshop on Accelerators and Hybrid Exascale Systems (AsHES), 2013


   title={Improving GPU Performance Prediction with Data Transfer Modeling},

   author={Boyer, Michael and Meng, Jiayuan and Kumaran, Kalyan},



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Accelerators such as graphics processors (GPUs) have become increasingly popular for high performance scientific computing. Often, much effort is invested in creating and optimizing GPU code without any guaranteed performance benefit. To reduce this risk, performance models can be used to project a kernel’s GPU performance potential before it is ported. However, raw GPU execution time is not the only consideration. The overhead of transferring data between the CPU and the GPU is also an important factor; for some applications, this overhead may even erase the performance benefits of GPU acceleration. To address this challenge, we propose a GPU performance modeling framework that predicts both kernel execution time and data transfer time. Our extensions to an existing GPU performance model include a data usage analyzer for a sequence of GPU kernels, to determine the amount of data that needs to be transferred, and a performance model of the PCIe bus, to determine how long the data transfer will take. We have tested our framework using a set of applications running on a production machine at Argonne National Laboratory. On average, our model predicts the data transfer overhead with an error of only 8%, and the inclusion of data transfer time reduces the error in the predicted GPU speedup from 255% to 9%.
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