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LDRD final report : massive multithreading applied to national infrastructure and informatics

Barrett, Brian B.; Hendrickson, Bruce A.; Laviolette, Randall A.; Leung, Vitus J.; Mackey, Greg; Murphy, Richard C.; Phillips, Cynthia A.; Pinar, Ali P.

Large relational datasets such as national-scale social networks and power grids present different computational challenges than do physical simulations. Sandia's distributed-memory supercomputers are well suited for solving problems concerning the latter, but not the former. The reason is that problems such as pattern recognition and knowledge discovery on large networks are dominated by memory latency and not by computation. Furthermore, most memory requests in these applications are very small, and when the datasets are large, most requests miss the cache. The result is extremely low utilization. We are unlikely to be able to grow out of this problem with conventional architectures. As the power density of microprocessors has approached that of a nuclear reactor in the past two years, we have seen a leveling of Moores Law. Building larger and larger microprocessor-based supercomputers is not a solution for informatics and network infrastructure problems since the additional processors are utilized to only a tiny fraction of their capacity. An alternative solution is to use the paradigm of massive multithreading with a large shared memory. There is only one instance of this paradigm today: the Cray MTA-2. The proposal team has unique experience with and access to this machine. The XMT, which is now being delivered, is a Red Storm machine with up to 8192 multithreaded 'Threadstorm' processors and 128 TB of shared memory. For many years, the XMT will be the only way to address very large graph problems efficiently, and future generations of supercomputers will include multithreaded processors. Roughly 10 MTA processor can process a simple short paths problem in the time taken by the Gordon Bell Prize-nominated distributed memory code on 32,000 processors of Blue Gene/Light. We have developed algorithms and open-source software for the XMT, and have modified that software to run some of these algorithms on other multithreaded platforms such as the Sun Niagara and Opteron multi-core chips.