Unstructured Computations on Emerging Architectures

  • Mohammed Al Farhan

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This dissertation describes detailed performance engineering and optimization of an unstructured computational aerodynamics software system with irregular memory accesses on various multi- and many-core emerging high performance computing scalable architectures, which are expected to be the building blocks of energy-austere exascale systems, and on which algorithmic- and architecture-oriented optimizations are essential for achieving worthy performance. We investigate several state-of-the-practice shared-memory optimization techniques applied to key kernels for the important problem class of unstructured meshes. We illustrate for a broad spectrum of emerging microprocessor architectures as representatives of the compute units in contemporary leading supercomputers, identifying and addressing performance challenges without compromising the floating-point numerics of the original code. While the linear algebraic kernels are bottlenecked by memory bandwidth for even modest numbers of hardware cores sharing a common address space, the edge-based loop kernels, which arise in the control volume discretization of the conservation law residuals and in the formation of the preconditioner for the Jacobian by finite-differencing the conservation law residuals, are compute-intensive and effectively exploit contemporary multi- and many-core processing hardware. We therefore employ low- and high-level algorithmic- and architecture-specific code optimizations and tuning in light of thread- and data-level parallelism, with a focus on strong thread scaling at the node-level. Our approaches are based upon novel multi-level hierarchical workload distribution mechanisms of data across different compute units (from the address space down to the registers) within every hardware core. We analyze the demonstrated aerodynamics application on specific computing architectures to develop certain performance metrics and models to bespeak the upper and lower bounds of the performance. We present significant full application speedup relative to the baseline code, on a succession of many-core processor architectures, i.e., Intel Xeon Phi Knights Corner (5.0x) and Knights Landing (2.9x). In addition, the performance of Knights Landing outperforms, at significantly lower power consumption, Intel Xeon Skylake with nearly twofold speedup. These optimizations are expected to be of value for many other unstructured mesh partial differential equation-based scientific applications as multi- and many- core architecture evolves.
Date of AwardMay 5 2019
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorDavid Keyes (Supervisor)


  • Performance Optimizations
  • Thread-level parallelism
  • Data-level parallelism
  • Unstructured Grids
  • Computational Aerodynamics
  • Intel Xeon Phi

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