BlackjackBench: Portable Hardware Characterization with Automated Results Analysis

TitleBlackjackBench: Portable Hardware Characterization with Automated Results Analysis
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsDanalis, A., P. Luszczek, G. Marin, J. Vetter, and J. Dongarra
JournalThe Computer Journal
Date Published2013-03
Keywordshardware characterization, micro-benchmarks, statistical analysis

DARPA’s AACE project aimed to develop Architecture Aware Compiler Environments. Such a compiler automatically characterizes the targeted hardware and optimizes the application codes accordingly. We present the BlackjackBench suite, a collection of portable micro-benchmarks that automate system characterization, plus statistical analysis techniques for interpreting the results. The BlackjackBench benchmarks discover the effective sizes and speeds of the hardware environment rather than the often unattainable peak values. We aim at hardware characteristics that can be observed by running executables generated by existing compilers from standard C codes. We characterize the memory hierarchy, including cache sharing and non-uniform memory access characteristics of the system, properties of the processing cores affecting the instruction execution speed and the length of the operating system scheduler time slot. We show how these features of modern multicores can be discovered programmatically. We also show how the features could potentially interfere with each other resulting in incorrect interpretation of the results, and how established classification and statistical analysis techniques can reduce experimental noise and aid automatic interpretation of results. We show how effective hardware metrics from our probes allow guided tuning of computational kernels that outperform an autotuning library further tuned by the hardware vendor.