5 Nov 2004 talkngtn   » (Observer)

From Beijing to Pittsburgh: Gelato Champions Itanium

Representatives from more than 25 Gelato Federation member institutions and corporations met on October 11-13, 2004, at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China to review and exchange research advances for Linux on the IntelĀ® ItaniumĀ®2 platform. Twenty-one technical presentations by top research and industry users focused on high-performance computing issues and collaborative solutions. Three weeks later, over 20 Gelato member institutions are gathering at SC2004 in Pittsburgh (November 8-11).

Intel and HP Initiate System Grant Program At the Beijing meetings, Mark K. Smith, Gelato's Managing Director, announced a program of system grants for Gelato members, made possible by Gelato sponsors Intel and HP. According to Smith, ``In this joint effort, Intel is providing Itanium processors for HP systems. A significant number of systems will be awarded to Gelato members through a competitive proposal process intended to seed platform research and develop new software infrastructure. This is a tremendous opportunity to catalyze some exciting new work and encourage some productive new collaborations among members. We are delighted to work so closely with Intel and HP on this project.''

On hand for the Beijing announcement of the Intel-HP program were Bob Kuhn, Director for Intel's Parallel and Distributed Solutions Division; and Michel Benard, Program Manager for HP's University Relations. Both serve as representatives to the Gelato Federation. Kuhn explained that ``Intel is very pleased to donate processors to the Gelato system grant program. This is a wonderful way to foster the advancement of the platform as our collaborations with Federation members advance the state of Itanium programming tools.'' HP's Benard added, ``This program is designed to foster the development of open-source tools and applications for Itanium. By joining with Intel on this initiative, we at HP anticipate broad and productive collaborations with Gelato Federation members, which will result in solid advances in Linux-Itanium computing.''

Beijing Meeting Technical Highlights Major discussion in Beijing addressed the commoditization of Itanium and critically needed modifications to the gcc compiler. Regarding the Itanium processor, Gelato members were optimistic about Intel's new multi-core technology, promised in 2005, and confident that x86 64-bit extensions will drive the move to the Itanium platform.

Shin Yee Chung of Singapore's Institute for High-Performance Computing noted that with the growing disparity between processor and memory speed, use of cache to hide memory latency is critical to HPC. While cache can improve general performance, fine tuning to a specific cache configuration can greatly improve performance. Unfortunately, fine-tuning by hand is very expensive. Cache-oblivious algorithms can fine-tune performance at runtime and improve cache performance dynamically, but they can also adversely affect overall performance due to function call overhead. Chung described research to minimize this overhead through cache-oblivious adaptive algorithms.

Because the Itanium compiler is critical to performance, this is a major focus of Gelato research. An ORC-based OpenMP compiler was presented by the research team of Prof. Weimin Zheng of Tsinghua University. The team is identifying optimization opportunities to explore thread-level parallelism using OpenMP. The OpenMP binary was tuned for the IA64 architecture by integrating the OpenMP processing module with other ORC optimizations using performance data provided by pfmon and perflib. Results are promising, with up to 25% speedup per overhead cost. Bob Kidd of the University of Illinois (UIUC) announced the September 2004 beta release of OpenIMPACT, a high-performance, open-source C compiler developed for Linux-Itanium at UIUC. OpenIMPACT is engineered to support a gcc-like use model. Kidd shared some recent C++ support work and provided tips for using OpenIMPACT for more advanced optimizations.

From CERN's openlab, Andreas Hirstius updated the Federation on development of the high-speed wide-area networking that will be required when CERN's Large Hadron Collider goes online in 2007. Anticipated data rates per experiment range from 200-1200MB/s, but because of large volumes, the data must be distributed to locations worldwide for analysis. The challenge is to set up reliable transoceanic 10Gb connections with these global partners. Hirstius focused his talk on how CERN is measuring stability, responsiveness, and recovery of the 10Gb network, as well as hardware and storage systems. Their Itanium cluster has demonstrated excellent stability and I/O capabilities for these networking tests. Additional technical highlights from the Gelato meetings can be found on the Gelato portal at http://www.gelato.org/community/gelato_meeting.php?id=BJ2004T.

Gelato Federation at SC2004 Gelato will also make sure that Linux-Itanium is front and center at SC2004 in Pittsburgh. The Gelato agenda includes a ``Birds of a Feather'' session on Wednesday, November 10, at which Gelato members and those interested can get an update on technical highlights from the recent Federation meetings in Beijing, meet Gelato industry sponsors, preview the just-released OpenIMPACT Itanium compiler, and get the latest from Intel on their current and upcoming compiler releases.

At the Gelato SC2004 booth (#746), representatives from the University of Illinois will demo the new OpenIMPACT compiler on an HP Itanium system. OpenIMPACT produces highly optimized binaries (on par with Intel's icc compiler) through aggressive use of predication, speculation, instruction-level parallelism, and profile-based optimizations. For ease of use, a gcc-like interface was added to the extensive research framework of the original IMPACT compiler, which was developed for research purposes. OpenIMPACT can be used as a high-performance alternative to traditional compilers. Source and documentation for OpenIMPACT are at http://www.gelato.uiuc.edu.

About Gelato The Gelato Federation is the global research community dedicated to advancing the Linux Itanium platform through collaborative relationships targeting real-world problems and solutions. Gelato members are suppliers and users of Linux Itanium technology with a shared goal of producing open-source solutions for academic, government, and industrial HPC research. The Gelato portal (http://www.gelato.org) serves as the primary channel for Federation business and collaborations. Information about Gelato members' software and solutions are available through the portal, and the community is welcome to participate and contribute.

Contact: Laurie Talkington talkngtn@gelato.org

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