Report Number: CSL-TR-95-660
Institution: Stanford University, Computer Systems Laboratory
Title: The Effects of Latency, Occupancy, and Bandwidth in Distributed Shared Memory Multiprocessors
Author: Holt, Chris
Author: Heinrich, Mark
Author: Singh, Jaswinder Pal
Author: Rothberg, Edward
Author: Hennessy, John
Date: January 1995
Abstract: Distributed shared memory (DSM) machines can be characterized by four parameters, based on a slightly modified version of the logP model. The l (latency) and o (occupancy of the communication controller) parameters are the keys to performance in these machines, and are largely determined by major architectural decisions about the aggressiveness and customization of the node and network. For recent and upcoming machines, the g (gap) parameter that measures node-to-network bandwidth does not appear to be a bottleneck. Conventional wisdom is that latency is the dominant factor in determining the performance of a DSM machine. We show, however, that controller occupancy--which causes contention even in highly optimized applications--plays a major role, especially at low latencies. When latency hiding is used, occupancy becomes more critical, even in machines with high latency networks. Scaling the problem size is often used as a technique to overcome limitations in communication latency and bandwidth. We show that in many structured computations occupancy-induced contention is not alleviated by increasing problem size, and that there are important classes of applications for which the performance lost by using higher latency networks or higher occupancy controllers cannot be regained easily, if at all, by scaling the problem size.