Interesting Read: Parallel Programming Made Easy?


Michael Wolfe, Senior Compiler engineer/architects at The Portland Group (PGI Compilers) recently wrote an article featured in HPCWire questioning how Easy? one could claim to make Parallel programming.
Some interesting thoughts and views from one of the leading compiler architects from a compiler that has focussed on high performance computing for decades(?) now.
Whether you agree or not is your own personal view of how this important style of programming should be shaped, but he does represent a very important part of the discussion underway today.
Definitely worth a read!
Comments:

Good article, but it misses by a mile my most compelling argument for parallel programming: it makes programming systems simpler. For example, if I am coding a control system that has 8 devices to control, I have two obvious choices: 8 threads running exactly the same code, or one thread multiplexing 8 sets of state and data. The 8 thread solution is far simpler, and I let the OS do the multiplexing. If I use message passing, I don't even have synchronization code or errors. Very easy to debug, and very easy to scale.

Posted by Michael Lyle on September 09, 2008 at 04:18 AM PDT #

Agreed. You are perhaps one of the few that haslearned parallel programming issues.
For most others, its a daunting task. Thinking parallel, rather than sequential is a bit unnatural (if you define natural in terms of high-school math: sequential steps, step 7 follows from step 4 applied to step 2, above, etc kind of learning).
Also, there are no easy tools to help verify that parallel apps are in fact correct, at least at the same level/extent as debuggers today assist in showing you that sequential apps are "correct".
As I said, its a popular view but not necessarily one shared by everyone.
Thanx for your comment, it helps me understand some of the diversity of thinking around this issue

Posted by Vijay Tatkar on September 10, 2008 at 04:50 AM PDT #

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I have worked with Sun and Oracle for 25 years now; in compilers and tools organization for most of these years followed by a couple of years in Cloud Computing. I am now in ISV Engineering, where our primary task is to improve synergy between Oracle Sun Systems and our rich ISV ecosystem

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