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Overlap of communication and computation (part 1)

September 16, 2014 at 5:00 am PST

I’ve mentioned computation / communication overlap before (e.g., here, here, and here).

Various types of networks and NICs have long-since had some form of overlap.  Some had better quality overlap than others, from an HPC perspective.

But with MPI-3, we’re really entering a new realm of overlap.  In this first of two blog entries, I’ll explain some of the various flavors of overlap and how they are beneficial to MPI/HPC-style applications.

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HPC over UDP

September 12, 2014 at 9:52 am PST

A few months ago, I posted an entry entitled “HPC in L3“.  My only point for that entry was to remove the “HPC in L3? That’s a terrible idea!” knee-jerk reaction that us old-timer HPC types have.

I mention this because we released a free software update a few days ago for the Cisco usNIC product that enables usNIC traffic to flow across UDP (vs. raw L2 frames).  Woo hoo!

That’s right, sports fans: another free software update to make usNIC even better than ever.  Especially across 40Gb interfaces!

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Unsung heros: MPI run time environments

September 7, 2014 at 4:39 am PST

Most people immediately think of short message latency, or perhaps large message bandwidth when thinking about MPI.

But have you ever thought about what your MPI implementation has to do before your application even calls MPI_INIT?

Hint: it’s pretty crazy complex, from an engineering perspective.

Think of it this way: operating systems natively provide a runtime system for individual processes.  You can launch, monitor, and terminate a process with that OS’s native tools.  But now think about extending all of those operating system services to gang-support N processes exactly the same way one process is managed.  And don’t forget that those N processes will be spread across M servers / operating system instances.

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Traffic in parallel

August 8, 2014 at 5:00 am PST

In my last entry, I gave a vehicles-driving-in-a-city analogy for network traffic.

Let’s tie that analogy back to HPC and MPI.

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Still more traffic

August 2, 2014 at 5:00 am PST

I periodically write about network traffic, and how general / datacenter network traffic analysis is related to MPI / HPC.

In my last entry, I mentioned how network traffic has many characteristics in common with distributed computing. Routing decisions, for example, are made independently at each network switch.

Consider if you were looking down at a city from above. Look at all the cars driving around the city streets. It’s chaos: each car/truck/bus/etc. makes its own routing decisions. Each one is a different size. Each one potentially goes in a different direction. Each one continually merges and splits from other traffic.

Yet somehow it all works.

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