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13.1.1 High Performance Fortran Perspective

Essentially, all the work of CP used the message-passing model with the application scientist decomposing the problem by hand and generating C (and sometimes Fortran) plus message-passing code to express the parallel program. This book is designed to show that this message-passing model is effective. It gets good performance and experienced users find it convenient to use as it is the most powerful approach that can express essentially all problems as long as the software is suitably embellished-with, if necessary, the functionality described in Chapters 15, 16, and 17. However, we can regard the success of message passing for parallel computing as comparable to the success of machine language programming for conventional machines. This was how early computers were programmed, and is still used today to get optimal performance for computational kernels and libraries. However, the overwhelming majority of lines of sequential code are developed, not with machine language but with high-level languages such as Fortran, C, or even higher level object-oriented systems. There are at least two reasons to seek a higher level approach than message passing for parallel computing, reasons that are shared by the machine language analogy.

Figure 13.1: The Initial Integrated FortranD Environment

We can illustrate the portability issues with two anecdotes from CP. Our original (Cosmic Cube  and Mark II) hypercubes did not allow the overlap of communication and calculation. However, we carefully designed the Mark IIIfp to allow the performance enhancement offered by this overlap. However, we made little use of this hardware feature because all our codes, algorithms and software support (CrOS) had been developed for the original hardware. Even the ``Marine Corps'' of CP was not willing to recode applications and systems software to gain the extra performance. Our software did port between MIMD machines as they evolved and in this sense message passing is portable. However, the ``optimal'' message-passing implementation is hardware dependent and nonportable. The goal of higher level software systems is to rely on compilers  and runtime systems to provide such optimization. As a second anecdote, we note that CP shared a CM-2 with Argonne National Laboratory. CP's use of this was disappointing even though several of our applications, such as QCD in Chapter 4, were very suitable for this SIMD architecture. We had excellent parallel (QCD) codes, which we ran in production, but these were written with message passing and this could not run on the CM-2. We were not willing to recode in CMFortran to use the SIMD machine for this problem.

CP was correct to concentrate on message passing on its MIMD machines; this is the only way to good performance on most (excepting the CM-5) MIMD machines even in 1992-ten years after we started. However, the enduring lesson of CP was that ``Parallel Computing Works.'' There is no reason that our particular software approach should endure in the same fashion. Rather, we wish to embody the lessons of CP's work into better and higher level software systems.

Table 13.1: Reasons to build parallel languages on top of existing languages-especially Fortran, C, C++

In 1987, Fox and Kennedy shared a crowded Olympus Airways flight from Athens to New York. Their conversations were key in establishing the collaboration on FortranD [Bozkus:93a;93b], [Choudhary:92c;92d;92e],

[Fox:91e], [Ponnusamy:92c]. This combined the parallel compiler expertise of Kennedy [Callahan:88e], [Hiranandani:91a;91b], with CP's wisdom in practical use of parallel machines. Again, Fox's move to Syracuse allowed him to compare the successes of CMFortran  on the SIMD CM-2 with those of message passing on the CP MIMD emporium. He concluded that one could use high-level data-parallel Fortran for both SIMD and MIMD machines. This evolved FortranD from its initial Fortran 77D implementation to include a Fortran 90D version [Wu:92a], illustrated in Figure 13.1. Section 13.3 describes some of the experiments leading to this realization. We will not describe data-parallel Fortran in detail because the situation is still quite fluid and this is an area that has grown spectacularly since 1990 when CP finished its project.

Table 13.2: Features of the Fortran(C) Plus Message-Passing Paradigm

Section 13.2 describes a prototype software tool built at Caltech and Rice by Vas Balasundaram and Uli Kremer to enable users to experiment with different decompositions. This was a component of the FortranD project set up as part of the NSF Center for Research in Parallel Computation (CRPC). FortranD was set up as a scalable language, that is,

``We may need to rewrite our code for a parallel machine, but the resulting scalable (FortranD) code should run with high efficiency on `all' current and future anticipated machines.''

Many new parallel languages have been proposed-OCCAM  is a well known example [Pritchard:91a]-but none are ``compelling'' that is, they do not solve enough parallel issues to warrant adoption. Thus, the recent trend has been to adapt existing languages such as Fortran [Brandes:92a], [Callahan:88e], [Chapman:92a], [Chen:92b], [Gerndt:90a], [Merlin:92a], [Zima:88a], C++ [Bodin:91a], C [Hamel:92a], [Hatcher:91a;91b], and Lisp. The latter is illustrated by the successful *Lisp, parallel Lisp implementation available on the CM-1, 2, and 5. Table 13.1 summarizes some of the issues involved in choosing to adopt a new language rather than modifying an old one. Table 13.2 summarizes the message-passing approach and why we might choose to replace it by a higher level system, such as data-parallel C or Fortran as summarized in Table 13.3. We were impressed by the C language offered on the CM-2; Section 13.6 describes an early experiment to develop a loosely synchronous version of this. We should probably have explored this more thoroughly, although at the time we did not perceive this as our mission and realized this project would require major resources to develop a system with good performance. Indeed, the performance of the early CM-2 C compiler was poor and this also discouraged us. Quinn and Hatcher implemented a similar but more restrictive C MIMD compiler [Hatcher:91a]. ASPAR, in Section 13.5, had similar goals to Fortran 77D, although it was targeted more as a migration tool than an efficient complete compiler.

Table 13.3: Issues in Data-Parallel Fortran Programming Paradigm

FortranD extends Fortran with a set of directives [Fox:91e], which help the compiler produce good code on a parallel machine. These directives include those specifying the decomposition of the data-parallel arrays onto the target hardware. The language includes forms of parallel loop (Forall and DO independent) for which parallelization can be asserted without a difficult dependence analysis. The run time library implements optimized parallel functions operating on the data-parallel arrays. Fortran 90D also includes the parallelism implied by the explicit array notation, for example, if A, B, and C are arrays of the same size, A=B+C is executed in parallel. This CRPC research was based in important ways on the research of CP. Further during 1992, an informal forum representing all the major players in the parallel computing arena agreed on a new industry-standard language, High Performance Fortran or HPF  [Kennedy:93a]. This embodies all the essential ideas of FortranD-including the full Fortran 90 syntax. We have modified FortranD so that HPF is a subset of FortranD. The CRPC FortranD project continues as a research compiler to investigate extensions of HPF to handle more general problems and unsolved issues such as parallel I/O  [Bordawekar:93a], [Rosario:93a]. We expect that data-parallel languages should be able to eventually express nearly all loosely synchronous problems, that is, the vast majority of scientific and engineering computations.

Table 13.4: High Performance Fortran (HPF) and its extensions

The scope of HPF and FortranD is summarized in Table 13.4. Table 13.4(a) roughly covers both the synchronous and embarrassingly parallel calculations of Chapters 4, 6, 7, and 8. Note that we include computations such as the Kuppermann and McKoy chemical reaction problems in Chapter 8, which mix the synchronous and embarrassingly parallel classes. The original FortranD [Fox:91e] and the initial HPF language [Kennedy:93a] should be able to express these two problem classes in such a way that the compiler will get good performance on MIMD and, for synchronous problems, SIMD machines [Choudhary:92d;92e]. Table 13.4(b) covers the loosely synchronous problems of Chapters 9 and 12, which need HPF extensions to express the irregular structure. We intend to incorporate the ideas of PARTI [Berryman:91a], [Saltz:91b] into FortranD as a prototype of an extended HPF that could handle loosely synchronous problems. The difficult applications in Sections 12.4, 12.5, 12.7, and 12.8 have a hierarchical tree structure that is not easy to express [Bhatt:92a], [Blelloch:92a], [Mou:90a], [Singh:92a]. Table 13.4(c) indicates that we have not yet studied HPF and FortranD for signal processing applications, although the iWarp group at Carnegie Mellon University has developed high level languages APPLY and ADAPT for this problem class [Webb:92a]. Table 13.4(d) notes that we cannot express in FortranD and HPF the difficult asynchronous applications introduced in Chapter 14.

We expect this study and implementation of data-parallel languages to be a growing and critical area of parallel computing.

In Section 13.7, we contrast hierarchical and distributed memory systems. Both require data locality and we expect that data parallel languages such as High Performance Fortran will be able to use the HPF directives to improve performance of sequential machines by exploiting the cache and other levels of memory hierarchy better.

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Next: Problem Architecture and Up: 13.1 High-Level Languages Previous: 13.1 High-Level Languages

Guy Robinson
Wed Mar 1 10:19:35 EST 1995