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In the single processor and SMP systems with few CPUs, one of our goals as programmers should be to stay out of the way of the compiler. Often constructs used to improve performance on a particular architecture limit our ability to achieve performance on another architecture. Further, these “brilliant” (read obtuse) hand optimizations often confuse a compiler, limiting its ability to automatically transform our code to take advantage of the particular strengths of the computer architecture.

As programmers, it is important to know how the compiler works so we can know when to help it out and when to leave it alone. We also must be aware that as compilers improve (never as much as salespeople claim) it’s best to leave more and more to the compiler.

As we move up the hierarchy of high performance computers, we need to learn new techniques to map our programs onto these architectures, including language extensions, library calls, and compiler directives. As we use these features, our programs become less portable. Also, using these higher-level constructs, we must not make modifications that result in poor performance on the individual RISC microprocessors that often make up the parallel processing system.

Measuring performance

When a computer is being purchased for computationally intensive applications, it is important to determine how well the system will actually perform this function. One way to choose among a set of competing systems is to have each vendor loan you a system for a period of time to test your applications. At the end of the evaluation period, you could send back the systems that did not make the grade and pay for your favorite system. Unfortunately, most vendors won’t lend you a system for such an extended period of time unless there is some assurance you will eventually purchase the system.

More often we evaluate the system’s potential performance using benchmarks . There are industry benchmarks and your own locally developed benchmarks. Both types of benchmarks require some careful thought and planning for them to be an effective tool in determining the best system for your application.

The next step

Quite aside from economics, computer performance is a fascinating and challenging subject. Computer architecture is interesting in its own right and a topic that any computer professional should be comfortable with. Getting the last bit of per- formance out of an important application can be a stimulating exercise, in addition to an economic necessity. There are probably a few people who simply enjoy matching wits with a clever computer architecture.

What do you need to get into the game?

  • A basic understanding of modern computer architecture. You don’t need an advanced degree in computer engineering, but you do need to understand the basic terminology.
  • A basic understanding of benchmarking, or performance measurement, so you can quantify your own successes and failures and use that information to improve the performance of your application.

This book is intended to be an easily understood introduction and overview of high performance computing. It is an interesting field, and one that will become more important as we make even greater demands on our most common personal computers. In the high performance computer field, there is always a tradeoff between the single CPU performance and the performance of a multiple processor system. Multiple processor systems are generally more expensive and difficult to program (unless you have this book).

Some people claim we eventually will have single CPUs so fast we won’t need to understand any type of advanced architectures that require some skill to program.

So far in this field of computing, even as performance of a single inexpensive microprocessor has increased over a thousandfold, there seems to be no less interest in lashing a thousand of these processors together to get a millionfold increase in power. The cheaper the building blocks of high performance computing become, the greater the benefit for using many processors. If at some point in the future, we have a single processor that is faster than any of the 512-processor scalable systems of today, think how much we could do when we connect 512 of those new processors together in a single system.

That’s what this book is all about. If you’re interested, read on.

Questions & Answers

where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
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Source:  OpenStax, High performance computing. OpenStax CNX. Aug 25, 2010 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11136/1.5
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