An Evaluative Study on the Effect of Contention on Message Latencies in Large Supercomputers
Workshop on Large Scale Parallel Processing at IPDPS (LSPP) 2009
Publication Type: Paper
Repository URL: 200805_ContentionHiPC
Significant theoretical research was done on interconnect topologies and topology aware mapping for parallel computers in the 80s. With the deployment of virtual cut-through, wormhole routing and faster interconnects, message latencies reduced and research in the area died down. This paper presents a study showing that with the emergence of very large supercomputers, typically connected as a 3D torus or mesh, topology effects have become important again. It presents an evaluative study on the effect of contention on message latencies on torus and mesh networks.

The paper uses three MPI benchmarks to evaluate the effect of hops (links) traversed by messages, on their latencies. The benchmarks demonstrate that when multiple messages compete for network resources, link occupancy or contention can increase message latencies by up to a factor of 8 times. In other words, contention leads to increased message latencies and reduces effective available bandwidth for each message. This suggests that application developers should consider interconnect topologies when mapping tasks to processors in order to obtain the best performance. Results are shown for two parallel machines -- ANL's Blue Gene/P and PSC's XT3.
Abhinav Bhatele, Laxmikant V. Kale, "An Evaluation of the Effect of Interconnect Topologies on Message Latencies in Large Supercomputers", Workshop on Large-Scale Parallel Processing (IPDPS), 2009.
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