Tiling and Asynchronous Communication Optimizations for Stencil Computations

  • Tareq Majed Yasin Malas

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The importance of stencil-based algorithms in computational science has focused attention on optimized parallel implementations for multilevel cache-based processors. Temporal blocking schemes leverage the large bandwidth and low latency of caches to accelerate stencil updates and approach theoretical peak performance. A key ingredient is the reduction of data traffic across slow data paths, especially the main memory interface. Most of the established work concentrates on updating separate cache blocks per thread, which works on all types of shared memory systems, regardless of whether there is a shared cache among the cores. This approach is memory-bandwidth limited in several situations, where the cache space for each thread can be too small to provide sufficient in-cache data reuse. We introduce a generalized multi-dimensional intra-tile parallelization scheme for shared-cache multicore processors that results in a significant reduction of cache size requirements and shows a large saving in memory bandwidth usage compared to existing approaches. It also provides data access patterns that allow efficient hardware prefetching. Our parameterized thread groups concept provides a controllable trade-off between concurrency and memory usage, shifting the pressure between the memory interface and the Central Processing Unit (CPU).We also introduce efficient diamond tiling structure for both shared memory cache blocking and distributed memory relaxed-synchronization communication, demonstrated using one-dimensional domain decomposition. We describe the approach and our open-source testbed implementation details (called Girih), present performance results on contemporary Intel processors, and apply advanced performance modeling techniques to reconcile the observed performance with hardware capabilities. Furthermore, we conduct a comparison with the state-of-the-art stencil frameworks PLUTO and Pochoir in shared memory, using corner-case stencil operators. We study the impact of the diamond tile size on computational intensity, cache block size, and energy consumption. The impact of computational intensity on power dissipation on the CPU and in the DRAM is investigated and shows that DRAM power is a decisive factor for energy consumption in the Intel Ivy Bridge processor, which is strongly influenced by the computational intensity. Moreover, we show that highest performance does not necessarily lead to lowest energy even if the clock speed is fixed. We apply our approach to an electromagnetic simulation application for solar cell development, demonstrating several-fold speedup compared to an efficient spatially blocked variant. Finally, we discuss the integration of our approach with other techniques for future High Performance Computing (HPC) systems, which are expected to be more memory bandwidth-starved with a deeper memory hierarchy.
Date of AwardDec 7 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Science and Engineering
SupervisorDavid Keyes (Supervisor)


  • High Performance Computing
  • stencil computations
  • tiling

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