Computer Science Department, Stanford University
Synchronization is a significant cost in many parallel programs, and can be a major bottleneck if it is handled in a centralized fashion using traditional shared-memory constructs such as barriers. In a parallel time-stepped simulation, the use of global synchronization primitives limits scalability, increases the sensitivity to load imbalance, and reduces the potential for exploiting locality to improve cache behavior.
This paper presents the results of an initial one-application study quantifying the costs and performance benefits of distributed, nearest neighbors synchronization. The application studied, MP3D, is a particle-based wind tunnel simulation. Our results for this one application on current shared-memory multiprocessors show a significant decrease in synchronization time using these techniques. We prototyped an application-independent library that implements distributed synchronization. The library allows a variety of parallel simulations to exploit these techniques without increasing the application programming beyond that of conventional approaches.
* On leave from the Computer Science Department, University of Cape Town.
** On leave from the Computer Science Department, University of the Witwatersrand.