STAPL-RTS: A Runtime System for Massive Parallelism
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Modern High Performance Computing (HPC) systems are complex, with deep memory hierarchies and increasing use of computational heterogeneity via accelerators. When developing applications for these platforms, programmers are faced with two bad choices. On one hand, they can explicitly manage machine resources, writing programs using low level primitives from multiple APIs (e.g., MPI+OpenMP), creating efficient but rigid, difficult to extend, and non-portable implementations. Alternatively, users can adopt higher level programming environments, often at the cost of lost performance. Our approach is to maintain the high level nature of the application without sacrificing performance by relying on the transfer of high level, application semantic knowledge between layers of the software stack at an appropriate level of abstraction and performing optimizations on a per-layer basis. In this dissertation, we present the STAPL Runtime System (STAPL-RTS), a runtime system built for portable performance, suitable for massively parallel machines. While the STAPL-RTS abstracts and virtualizes the underlying platform for portability, it uses information from the upper layers to perform the appropriate low level optimizations that restore the performance characteristics. We outline the fundamental ideas behind the design of the STAPL-RTS, such as the always distributed communication model and its asynchronous operations. Through appropriate code examples and benchmarks, we prove that high level information allows applications written on top of the STAPL-RTS to attain the performance of optimized, but ad hoc solutions. Using the STAPL library, we demonstrate how this information guides important decisions in the STAPL-RTS, such as multi-protocol communication coordination and request aggregation using established C++ programming idioms. Recognizing that nested parallelism is of increasing interest for both expressivity and performance, we present a parallel model that combines asynchronous, one-sided operations with isolated nested parallel sections. Previous approaches to nested parallelism targeted either static applications through the use of blocking, isolated sections, or dynamic applications by using asynchronous mechanisms (i.e., recursive task spawning) which come at the expense of isolation. We combine the flexibility of dynamic task creation with the isolation guarantees of the static models by allowing the creation of asynchronous, one-sided nested parallel sections that work in tandem with the more traditional, synchronous, collective nested parallelism. This allows selective, run-time customizable use of parallelism in an application, based on the input and the algorithm.
Papadopoulos, Ioannis (2016). STAPL-RTS: A Runtime System for Massive Parallelism. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from