Toward a Modular Precision Ecosystem for High-Performance Computing

TitleToward a Modular Precision Ecosystem for High-Performance Computing
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsAnzt, H., G. Flegar, T. Gruetzmacher, and E. S. Quintana-Orti
JournalThe International Journal of High Performance Computing Applications
Date Published2019-11
Keywordsconjugate gradient, GPUs, Jacobi method, Modular precision, multicore processors, PageRank, parallel numerical linear algebra

With the memory bandwidth of current computer architectures being significantly slower than the (floating point) arithmetic performance, many scientific computations only leverage a fraction of the computational power in today’s high-performance architectures. At the same time, memory operations are the primary energy consumer of modern architectures, heavily impacting the resource cost of large-scale applications and the battery life of mobile devices. This article tackles this mismatch between floating point arithmetic throughput and memory bandwidth by advocating a disruptive paradigm change with respect to how data are stored and processed in scientific applications. Concretely, the goal is to radically decouple the data storage format from the processing format and, ultimately, design a “modular precision ecosystem” that allows for more flexibility in terms of customized data access. For memory-bounded scientific applications, dynamically adapting the memory precision to the numerical requirements allows for attractive resource savings. In this article, we demonstrate the potential of employing a modular precision ecosystem for the block-Jacobi preconditioner and the PageRank algorithm—two applications that are popular in the communities and at the same characteristic representatives for the field of numerical linear algebra and data analytics, respectively.

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