Cellule: Lightweight Execution Environment for Accelerator-based Systems
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The increasing prevalence of accelerators is changing the high performance computing (HPC) landscape to one in which future platforms will consist of heterogeneous multi-core chips comprised of both general purpose and specialized cores. Coupled with this trend is increased support for virtualization, which can abstract underlying hardware to aid in dynamically managing its use by HPC applications while at the same time, provide lightweight, efficient, and specialized execution environments (SEE) for applications to maximally exploit the hardware. This paper describes the Cellule architecture which uses virtualization to create high performance, low noise SEEs for accelerators. The paper describes important properties of Cellule and illustrates its advantages with an implementation on the IBM Cell processor. With compute-intensive workloads, performance improvements of up to 60% are attained when using Cellule’s SEE vs. the current Linux-based runtime, resulting in a system architecture that is suitable for future accelerators and specialized cores irrespective of whether they are on-chip or off-chip. A key principle, coordinated resource management for accelerator and general purpose resources, is shown to extend beyond Cell, using experimental results obtained on a different accelerator platform.
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