HPL Frequently Asked Questions
In order to find out the best performance of your system, the
largest problem size fitting in memory is what you should aim for.
The amount of memory used by HPL is essentially the size of the
coefficient matrix. So for example, if you have 4 nodes with 256 Mb
of memory on each, this corresponds to 1 Gb total, i.e., 125 M double
precision (8 bytes) elements. The square root of that number is
11585. One definitely needs to leave some memory for the OS as well
as for other things, so a problem size of 10000 is likely to fit. As
a rule of thumb, 80 % of the total amount of memory is a good guess.
If the problem size you pick is too large, swapping will occur, and
the performance will drop. If multiple processes are spawn on each
node (say you have 2 processors per node), what counts is the
available amount of memory to each process.
HPL uses the block size NB for the data distribution as well as for
the computational granularity. From a data distribution point of
view, the smallest NB, the better the load balance. You definitely
want to stay away from very large values of NB. From a computation
point of view, a too small value of NB may limit the computational
performance by a large factor because almost no data reuse will occur
in the highest level of the memory hierarchy. The number of messages
will also increase. Efficient matrix-multiply routines are often
internally blocked. Small multiples of this blocking factor are
likely to be good block sizes for HPL. The bottom line is that "good"
block sizes are almost always in the [32 .. 256] interval. The best
values depend on the computation / communication performance ratio of
your system. To a much less extent, the problem size matters as well.
Say for example, you emperically found that 44 was a good block size
with respect to performance. 88 or 132 are likely to give slightly
better results for large problem sizes because of a slighlty higher
This depends on the physical interconnection network you have.
Assuming a mesh or a switch HPL "likes" a 1:k ratio with k in [1..3].
In other words, P and Q should be approximately equal, with Q
slightly larger than P. Examples: 2 x 2, 2 x 4, 2 x 5, 3 x 4, 4 x 4,
4 x 6, 5 x 6, 4 x 8 ... If you are running on a simple Ethernet
network, there is only one wire through which all the messages are
exchanged. On such a network, the performance and scalability of HPL
is strongly limited and very flat process grids are likely to be the
best choices: 1 x 4, 1 x 8, 2 x 4 ...
HPL has been designed to perform well for large problem sizes on
hundreds of nodes and more. The software works on one node and for
large problem sizes, one can usually achieve pretty good performance
on a single processor as well. For small problem sizes however, the
overhead due to message-passing, local indexing and so on can be
There are quite a few reasons. First off, these options are useful to
determine what matters and what does not on your system. Second, HPL
is often used in the context of early evaluation of new systems. In
such a case, everything is usually not quite working right, and it is
convenient to be able to vary these parameters without recompiling.
Finally, every system has its own peculiarities and one is likely to
be willing to emperically determine the best set of parameters. In
any case, one can always follow the advice provided in the
tuning section of this document and not
worry about the complexity of the input file.
Certainly. There is always room for performance improvements.
Specific knowledge about a particular system is always a source of
performance gains. Even from a generic point of view, better
algorithms or more efficient formulation of the classic ones are
Some older version of the cxml BLAS library seems to require operands
adresses to be aligned on 64 or 96 bytes boundaries. This error was
tracked down to the Level 2 BLAS DGER routine. It is rather
difficult to reproduce in a small example program since the operands
A, X and Y need to be stored at specific places in memory for the
problem to occur. There are at least 4 possibles independent fixes
(applying one of them should be enough):
- Get the latest cxml library.
- Do not use the right-looking variant of the panel factorization:
Line 14 of the input data file HPL.dat should not contain a 2. Use
only 0s or 1s on that line.
- Link in the Fortran 77 reference implementation of that routine.
Download the source from
netlib and compile it. Move the object file "dger.o" into the
hpl/testing/ptest/<arch> directory. Edit the Makefile there and
add "dger.o" to the list of object files. Issue in that directory a
"make clean; make". You should have just built a patched executable
- Another possible fix that does not seem to always work is to set
the value of the ALIGN parameter in the data input file
hpl/bin/<arch>/HPL.dat to a multiple of 8 (or 12) larger than
or equal to 8 (or 12).
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