[Beowulf] multi-threading vs. MPI

richard.walsh at comcast.net richard.walsh at comcast.net
Fri Dec 7 22:51:25 EST 2007




 -------------- Original message ----------------------
From: Toon Knapen <toon.knapen at gmail.com>
> Greg Lindahl wrote:
> > 
> > In real life (i.e. not HPC), everyone uses message passing between
> > nodes.  So I don't see what you're getting at.
> > 
> 
> Many on this list suggest that using multiple MPI-processes on one and 
> the same node is superior to MT approaches IIUC. However I have the 
> impression that almost the whole industry is looking into MT to benefit 
> from multi-core without even considering message-passing. Why is that so?

I think what Greg and others are really saying is that if you have to use a distributed memory
model (MPI) as a first order response to meet your scalability requirements, then
the extra coding effort and complexity required to create a hybrid code may not be
a good performance return on your investment.  If on the other hand you only
need to scale within a singe SMP node (with cores and sockets on a single
board growing in number, this returns more performance than in the past), then you
may be able to avoid using MPI and chose a simpler model like OpenMP.  If you
have already written an efficient MPI code,  then (with some exceptions) the 
performance-gain divided by the hybrid coding-effort may seem small.

Development in an SMP environment is easier.  I know of a number of sights
that work this way.  The experienced algorithm folks work up the code in 
OpenMP on say an SGI Altix or Power6 SMP, then they get a dedicated MPI
coding expert to convert it later for scalable production operation on a cluster.
In this situation, they do end up with hybrid versions in some cases.  In non-HPC
or smaller workgroup contexts your production code may not need to be converted.

Cheers,

rbw

--

"Making predictions is hard, especially about the future."

Niels Bohr

--

Richard Walsh
Thrashing River Consulting--
5605 Alameda St.
Shoreview, MN 55126

Phone #: 612-382-4620

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