High-performance computing (HPC) programming has become increasingly difficult with the advent of hybrid supercomputers consisting of multicore CPUs and accelerator boards such as the GPU. Manual tuning of software to achieve high performance on this type of machine has been performed by programmers. This is needlessly difficult and prone to being invalidated by new hardware, new software, or changes in the underlying code.

A system was developed for task-based representation of programs, which when coupled with a scheduler and runtime system, allows for many benefits, including higher performance and utilization of computational resources, easier programming and porting, and adaptations of code during runtime.

The system consists of a method of representing computer algorithms as a series of data-dependent tasks. The series forms a graph, which can be scheduled for execution on many nodes of a supercomputer efficiently by a computer algorithm. The schedule is executed by a dispatch component, which is tailored to understand all of the hardware types that may be available within the system. The scheduler is informed by a cluster mapping tool, which generates a topology of available resources and their strengths and communication costs.

Software is decoupled from its hardware, which aids in porting to future architectures. A computer algorithm schedules all operations, which for systems of high complexity (i.e., most NASA codes), cannot be performed optimally by a human. The system aids in reducing repetitive code, such as communication code, and aids in the reduction of redundant code across projects. It adds new features to code automatically, such as recovering from a lost node or the ability to modify the code while running.

In this project, the innovators at the time of this reporting intend to develop two distinct technologies that build upon each other and both of which serve as building blocks for more efficient HPC usage. First is the scheduling and dynamic execution framework, and the second is scalable linear algebra libraries that are built directly on the former.

This work was done by John Humphrey and Kyle Spagnoli of EM Photonics, Inc. for Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-16472-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the July, 2013 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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