Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

More Chip Cores Can Mean Slower Supercomputing, Simulation Shows

16.01.2009
THE MULTICORE DILEMMA: more cores on a single chip don't necessarily mean faster clock speeds, a Sandia simulation has determined.

The worldwide attempt to increase the speed of supercomputers merely by increasing the number of processor cores on individual chips unexpectedly worsens performance for many complex applications, Sandia simulations have found.

A Sandia team simulated key algorithms for deriving knowledge from large data sets. The simulations show a significant increase in speed going from two to four multicores, but an insignificant increase from four to eight multicores. Exceeding eight multicores causes a decrease in speed. Sixteen multicores perform barely as well as two, and after that, a steep decline is registered as more cores are added.

The problem is the lack of memory bandwidth as well as contention between processors over the memory bus available to each processor. (The memory bus is the set of wires used to carry memory addresses and data to and from the system RAM.)

A supermarket analogy

To use a supermarket analogy, if two clerks at the same checkout counter are processing your food instead of one, the checkout process should go faster. Or, you could be served by four clerks.

Or eight clerks. Or sixteen. And so on.

The problem is, if each clerk doesn’t have access to the groceries, he or she doesn’t necessarily help the process. Worse, the clerks may get in each other’s way.

Similarly, it seems a no-brainer that if one core is fast, two would be faster, four still faster, and so on.

But the lack of immediate access to individualized memory caches — the “food” of each processor — slows the process down instead of speeding it up once the number of cores exceeds eight, according to a simulation of high-performance computers by Sandia’s Richard Murphy, Arun Rodrigues and former student Megan Vance.

“To some extent, it is pointing out the obvious — many of our applications have been memory-bandwidth-limited even on a single core,” says Rodrigues. “However, it is not an issue to which industry has a known solution, and the problem is often ignored.”

“The difficulty is contention among modules,” says James Peery, director of Sandia’s Computations, Computers, Information and Mathematics Center. “The cores are all asking for memory through the same pipe. It’s like having one, two, four, or eight people all talking to you at the same time, saying, ‘I want this information.’ Then they have to wait until the answer to their request comes back. This causes delays.”

“The original AMD processors in Red Storm were chosen because they had better memory performance than other processors, including other Opteron processors, “ says Ron Brightwell. “One of the main reasons that AMD processors are popular in high-performance computing is that they have an integrated memory controller that, until very recently, Intel processors didn’t have.”

Multicore technologies are considered a possible savior of Moore’s Law, the prediction that the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit will double approximately every two years.

“Multicore gives chip manufacturers something to do with the extra transistors successfully predicted by Moore’s Law,” Rodrigues says. “The bottleneck now is getting the data off the chip to or from memory or the network.”

A more natural goal of researchers would be to increase the clock speed of single cores, since the vast majority of applications are designed for single-core performance on word processors, music, and video applications. But power consumption, increased heat, and basic laws of physics involving parasitic currents meant that designers were reaching their limit in improving chip speed for common silicon processes.

“The [chip design] community didn’t go with multicores because they were without flaw,” says Mike Heroux. “The community couldn’t see a better approach. It was desperate. Presently we are seeing memory system designs that provide a dramatic improvement over what was available 12 months ago, but the fundamental problem still exists.”

In the early days of supercomputing, Seymour Cray produced a superchip that processed information faster than any other chip. Then a movement — led in part by Sandia — proved that ordinary chips, programmed to work different parts of a problem at the same time, could solve complex problems faster than the most powerful superchip. Sandia’s Paragon supercomputer, in fact, was the world’s first parallel processing supercomputer.

Today, Sandia has a large investment in message-passing programs. Its Institute for Advanced Architectures, operated jointly with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and intended to prepare the way for exaflop computing, may help solve the multichip dilemma.

ORNL’s Jaguar supercomputer, currently the world’s fastest for scientific computing, is a Cray XT model based on technology developed by Sandia and Cray for Sandia’s Red Storm supercomputer. Red Storm’s original and unique design is the most copied of all supercomputer architectures.

The current work was funded by Sandia’s Laboratory-Directed Research and Development office.

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Neal Singer | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.sandia.gov

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Ultra-precise chip-scale sensor detects unprecedentedly small changes at the nanoscale
18.01.2017 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

nachricht Data analysis optimizes cyber-physical systems in telecommunications and building automation
18.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Algorithmen und Wissenschaftliches Rechnen SCAI

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>