The EISPACK and LINPACK software libraries were designed for supercomputers used in the 1970s and early 1980s, such as the CDC-7600, Cyber 205, and Cray-1. These machines featured multiple functional units pipelined for good performance . The CDC-7600 was basically a high-performance scalar computer, while the Cyber 205 and Cray-1 were early vector computers.
The development of LAPACK in the late 1980s was intended to make the EISPACK and LINPACK libraries run efficiently on shared memory - vector supercomputers and RISC workstations. The ScaLAPACK software library will extend the use of LAPACK to distributed memory concurrent supercomputers.
The underlying concept of both the LAPACK and ScaLAPACK libraries is the use of block-partitioned algorithms to minimize data movement between different levels in hierarchical memory. Thus, the ideas for developing a library for dense linear algebra computations are applicable to any computer with a hierarchical memory that (1) imposes a sufficiently large startup cost on the movement of data between different levels in the hierarchy, and for which (2) the cost of a context switch is too great to make fine grain size multithreading worthwhile. Our target machines are, therefore, medium and large grain size advanced-architecture computers. These include ``traditional'' shared memory, vector supercomputers, such as the Cray Y-MP and C90, and MIMD distributed memory concurrent supercomputers, such as the Intel Paragon, the IBM SP2 and Cray T3D concurrent systems.
Future advances in compiler and hardware technologies in the mid to late 1990s are expected to make multithreading a viable approach for masking communication costs. Since the blocks in a block-partitioned algorithm can be regarded as separate threads, our approach will still be applicable on machines that exploit medium and coarse grain size multithreading.