Monday, December 3, 2007

High performance computing

As human being greedy we will never settle down with what we have got. We will always look for more. That is exactly happening in high performance computing industry. Long back we had very slow processors which took seconds to sort a small chunk of data. Now we want to predict the climate of each and every location of world within seconds. There are lots of medical imaging algorithms waiting in the shore for more computation power. There are lots of generic algorithms which would solve many problems in the real world which needs a bulk more computational power. So that is why the high performance computing industry is quite hot.

The business

The first name that comes when looking into high performance computing is Intel. They are coming up with processors with more and more cores. Then there is AMD in the form of CPU and GPU(ATI is now AMD's). But the leader in GPU is still NVIDIA with their latest GPU 8800 ultra which have 128 SIMD cores. There is a brand new architecture from IBM called IBM Cell, Intel is going to release larabee next year.

Looking into software Intel have their own compiler which compiles High level code to machine code with highest optimization for CPU, NVIDIA have CUDA for doing the general purpose programs in GPU, There is directx & HLSL from microsoft for GPU, There is Cg and CgFx from NVIDIA, There is OpenGL from ARB, and RapidMind have their own stream programming libraries. And we can’t hear a brand peak stream now because google bought it.

The Free Lunch Is Over, A Fundamental Turn Toward Concurrency in Software - Herb Slutter

Till today the programmers didn’t need to think much about performance optimization. The hardware vendors were keeping on improving their hardware which needs no change in software to improve the performance. But that have reached its limit. The clock speed can’t be increased anymore; the power can’t be increased due to heat dissipation; the physics is catching up. The free lunch is over. Now it is multicore. It is parallel thinking which can improve the performance.

Think parallel or perish - Intel

Intel say either think parallel or get perished. If you still keep on writing a single threaded serial code your software will be outdated. Do you think someone going to buy your software when one other can do the same thing in one tenth of your time? It is only parallelism which can improve he performance now.


What is this GP in GPU? Looking wierd? But it is reality. You can do a lot of multi threaded application using GPU which does general purpose tasks instead of usual graphics tasks. CUDA from NVIDIA is the best way to make GPGPU program.


If your algorithm is not parallel; If your application is still running on single thread; If you still keep on thinking someone else will speedup your algorithm.; You will be perished.. Your algorithm will not have existence. Better late than never!!!

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