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Frequent flyer

A colleague recently told me that he took two round trip flights from California to Florida for the sole purpose of nudging him into the next frequent flyer status level (over 100,000 miles in a year, in his case).  “At the time, I questioned the wisdom waking up early enough to get on a plane at 6am on a Saturday morning,” he said.  “But I’ve been automatically upgraded to first class ever since.  So — good decision.”  Even more surprising is that, by random chance, he found another guy who took both of the same flights for exactly the same reason.

Parallel programming is kinda like that.  If you’re just venturing into a concurrent programming world, it seems weird, awkward, and possibly even counter-intuitive.  But once you learn how to do it right, the benefits are continual.  And you’ll find that others are doing the same thing.

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Do you know what an iBarrier is?

  1. A joke in the MPI Forum
  2. A useful synchronization technique
  3. Waiting in line at the Apple store for an iPhone

For a long time, the answer was #1 — we jokingly referred to “non-blocking barriers” in the same breath as MPI_SEND_ANY and MPI_ESP(do_what_i_meant_not_what_i_coded).  But recently, the answer has become #2.

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Intel’s Many Integrated Cores (MIC) announcement

Lots of interesting things were announced at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC’10) this week.  Sadly, I wasn’t there; I was just reading the press releases, tweets, blogs, and watching the vlogs like everyone else who wasn’t there.

I’ll pick just one topic to discuss here: the Intel Many Integrated Cores (MIC) announcement.

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No RCE-cast this week

Sorry folks — Brock and I got caught up in our day jobs recently, and didn’t get to put out an RCE podcast this week.

We have some more interviews on tap, so stay tuned.  We’ll return to our regularly-scheduled every-two-weeks publication in two weeks.

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It’s the latency, stupid

…except when it isn’t.

Most people throw around latency and bandwidth numbers as the most important metrics for a given MPI implementation.  “MPI implementation X is terrible because MPI implementation Y’s latency is 5% lower!”

Ahh… the fervence of youth (and marketing).  If only the world was so black and white.  But it’s not.  The world is grey.  I can think of 20 metrics and implementation features off the top of my head that matter to real-world users and applications.

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