Programming Massively Parallel Processors. A Hands-on Approach

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Jie Cheng

Abstract

Programming Massively Parallel Processors. A Hands-on Approach
David Kirk and Wen-mei Hwu
ISBN: 978-0-12-381472-2
Copyright 2010

Introduction

This book is designed for graduate/undergraduate students and practitioners from any science and engineering discipline who use computational power to further their field of research. This comprehensive test/reference provides a foundation for the understanding and implementation of parallel programming skills which are needed to achieve breakthrough results by developing parallel applications that perform well on certain classes of Graphic Processor Units (GPUs). The book guides the reader to experience programming by using an extension to C language, in CUDA which is a parallel programming environment supported on NVIDIA GPUs, and emulated on less parallel CPUs. Given the fact that parallel programming on any High Performance Computer is complex and requires knowledge about the underlying hardware in order to write an efficient program, it becomes an advantage of this book over others to be specific toward a particular hardware. The book takes the readers through a series of techniques for writing and optimizing parallel programming for several real-world applications. Such experience opens the door for the reader to learn parallel programming in depth.

Outline of the Book

Kirk and Hwu effectively organize and link a wide spectrum of parallel programming concepts by focusing on the practical applications in contrast to most general parallel programming texts that are mostly conceptual and theoretical. The authors are both affiliated with NVIDIA; Kirk is an NVIDIA Fellow and Hwu is principle investigator for the first NVIDIA CUDA Center of Excellence at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Their coverage in the book can be divided into four sections. The first part (Chapters 1–3) starts by defining GPUs and their modern architectures and later providing a history of Graphics Pipelines and GPU computing. It also covers data parallelism, the basics of CUDA memory/threading models, the CUDA extensions to the C language, and the basic programming/debugging tools. The second part (Chapters 4–7) enhances student programming skills by explaining the CUDA memory model and its types, strategies for reducing global memory traffic, the CUDA threading model and granularity which include thread scheduling and basic latency hiding techniques, GPU hardware performance features, techniques to hide latency in memory accesses, floating point arithmetic, modern computer system architecture, and the common data-parallel programming patterns needed to develop a high-performance parallel application. The third part (Chapters 8–11) provides a broad range of parallel execution models and parallel programming principles, in addition to a brief introduction to OpenCL. They also include a wide range of application case studies, such as advanced MRI reconstruction, molecular visualization and analysis. The last chapter (Chapter 12) discusses the great potential for future architectures of GPUs. It provides commentary on the evolution of memory architecture, Kernel Execution Control Evolution, and programming environments.

Summary

In general, this book is well-written and well-organized. A lot of difficult concepts related to parallel computing areas are easily explained, from which beginners or even advanced parallel programmers will benefit greatly. It provides a good starting point for beginning parallel programmers who can access a Tesla GPU. The book targets specific hardware and evaluates performance based on this specific hardware. As mentioned in this book, approximately 200 million CUDA-capable GPUs have been actively in use. Therefore, the chances are that a lot of beginning parallel programmers can have access to Telsa GPU. Also, this book gives clear descriptions of Tesla GPU architecture, which lays a solid foundation for both beginning parallel programmers and experienced parallel programmers. The book can also serve as a good reference book for advanced parallel computing courses.

Jie Cheng,
University of Hawaii Hilo


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Book review