Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: Research Program

Towards More Abstraction

As emphasized by initiatives such as the European Exascale Software Initiative (EESI), the European Technology Platform for High Performance Computing (ETP4HPC), or the International Exascale Software Initiative (IESP), the HPC community needs new programming APIs and languages for expressing heterogeneous massive parallelism in a way that provides an abstraction of the system architecture and promotes high performance and efficiency. The same conclusion holds for mobile, embedded applications that require performance on heterogeneous systems.

This crucial challenge given by the evolution of parallel architectures therefore comes from this need to make high performance accessible to the largest number of developers, abstracting away architectural details providing some kind of performance portability, and provided a high level feed-back allowing the user to correct and tune the code. Disruptive uses of the new technology and groundbreaking new scientific results will not come from code optimization or task scheduling, but they require the design of new algorithms that require the technology to be tamed in order to reach unprecedented levels of performance.

Runtime systems and numerical libraries are part of the answer, since they may be seen as building blocks optimized by experts and used as-is by application developers. The first purpose of runtime systems is indeed to provide abstraction. Runtime systems offer a uniform programming interface for a specific subset of hardware (e.g., OpenGL or DirectX are well-established examples of runtime systems dedicated to hardware-accelerated graphics) or low-level software entities (e.g., POSIX-thread implementations). They are designed as thin user-level software layers that complement the basic, general purpose functions provided by the operating system calls. Applications then target these uniform programming interfaces in a portable manner. Low-level, hardware dependent details are hidden inside runtime systems. The adaptation of runtime systems is commonly handled through drivers. The abstraction provided by runtime systems thus enables portability. Abstraction alone is however not enough to provide portability of performance, as it does nothing to leverage low-level-specific features to get increased performance and does nothing to help the user tune his code. Consequently, the second role of runtime systems is to optimize abstract application requests by dynamically mapping them onto low-level requests and resources as efficiently as possible. This mapping process makes use of scheduling algorithms and heuristics to decide the best actions to take for a given metric and the application state at a given point in its execution time. This allows applications to readily benefit from available underlying low-level capabilities to their full extent without breaking their portability. Thus, optimization together with abstraction allows runtime systems to offer portability of performance. Numerical libraries provide sets of highly optimized kernels for a given field (dense or sparse linear algebra, FFT, etc.) either in an autonomous fashion or using an underlying runtime system.

Application domains cannot resort to libraries for all codes however, computation patterns such as stencils are a representative example of such difficulty. The compiler technology plays here a central role, in managing high level semantics, either through templates, domain specific languages or annotations. Compiler optimizations, and the same applies for runtime optimizations, are limited by the level of semantics they manage. Providing part of the algorithmic knowledge of an application, for instance knowing that it computes a 5-point stencil and then performs a dot product, would lead to more opportunities to adapt parallelism, memory structures, and is a way to leverage the evolving hardware. Besides, with the need for automatic optimization comes the need for feed-back to the user, corresponding to the need to debug the code and also to understand what the runtime has performed. Here the compiler plays also a central role in the analysis of the code, and the instrumentation of the program given to the runtime.

Compilers and runtime play a crucial role in the future of high performance applications, by defining the input language for users, and optimizing/transforming it into high performance code. The objective of STORM is to propose better interactions between compiler and runtime and more semantics for both approaches.

The results of the team on-going research in 2019 reflect this focus. Results presented in Sections 7.11, 7.15, 7.10 and 7.9 correspond to efforts for higher abstractions through DSL or libraries, and decouple algorithmics from parallel optimizations. Results in Section 7.8 correspond to efforts on parallelism expression and again abstraction, starting from standard parallel programming languages. Results described in Sections 7.1 and 7.16 provide feed-back information, through visualization and deadlock detection for parallel executions. The work described in Sections 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, 7.6,7.12, 7.7 and 7.13 focus in particular on StarPU and its development in order to better abstract architecture, resilience and optimizations. The work presented Section 7.2 aims to help developers with optimization.

Finally, Sections 7.14 and 7.17 present an on-going effort on improving the Chameleon library and strengthening its relation with StarPU and the NewMadeleine communication library. They represent real-life applications for the runtime methods we develop.