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Berkeley UPC - Unified Parallel C

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  UPC Language Features
Explicitly Parallel Execution Model


The UPC execution model is similar to that used by the message passing style of programing (MPI or PVM). This model is called  Single Program Multiple Data  (SPMD) and it is an explicitly parallel model. In UPC terms, the execution vehicle for a program is called a thread. The language defines a private variable - MYTHREAD - that can be used to distinguish between the threads of an UPC program. An UPC program it is run in its entirety independently on each thread. The language does not define any correspondence between an UPC thread and  its OS level counterparts, nor does it define any mapping to physical CPU's. Because of this, UPC threads can be implemented either as full-fledged OS processes or as threads (user or kernel level). On a parallel system, an UPC program running with shared data will contain at least one UPC thread per physical processor available.

To represent the amount of parallelism available to a program (i.e. number of UPC threads), the language introduces a new variable - THREADS. The value of this variable can be set in two ways: 1) at compile time, for the cases where the amount of parallelism is a priori known and 2) at run-time .  

For more details see the UPC language specification.


Shared Address Space

 
UPC distinguishes the data available to a thread into  shared data and private data. This distinction is made through the usage of a new C type-qualifier: shared. Data qualified as shared is accessible from within any UPC thread, i.e. the same address on each thread refers to the same physical memory location. Data that lacks the shared qualifier is considered thread private data, i.e. the same address on each thread refers to distinct physical memory locations. At the language level, there is no syntactic difference between the accesses to a shared variable and the accesses to a private variable.

The language also defines the "physical" association between shared data items and UPC threads. This association, called affinity in UPC terms, indicates that a particular thread "owns" a particular data item.  From the implementation point of view, affinity translates into storing data into the physical memory of the CPU where the UPC thread is running.

When defining the affinity, the language distinguishes between scalar data and array data. All scalar data (of any of the primitive C types,  pointer type or user defined aggregate type) has affinity with thread 0.  For arrays, the language allows for three affinity granularities:
To accommodate data affinity, UPC defines rules for arithmetic on pointers to shared data items and provides language level  primitives to inspect the affinity of a shared data item.

For more details see the UPC language specification.
 

Synchronization Primitives


UPC makes no implicit assumptions about the interaction between threads. All thread interaction is explicitly managed by the programmer through the primitives provided by the language: locks, barriers, memory fences.

For more details see the UPC language specification.


Memory Consistency Model


To define the interaction between memory accesses to shared data, UPC provides two user controlled consistency models. Each memory reference in a program, can be annotated to be either strict or relaxed. In the  "strict" model, the program executes in a sequential consistency model (Lamport). This means that it appears to all threads that the strict references within the same thread appear in the program order, relative to all other accesses.  In the "relaxed" model,  it appears to the issuing thread that all shared references within the thread appear in the program order.

The language allows the user to specify the access consistency on a per variable basis or, at coarser granularity, on a per statement basis.

For more details see the UPC language specification.


Parallel Utility Libraries


UPC provides a number of utility libraries that encapsulate functionality commonly required for writing parallel applications, and provide standardized interfaces to capabilities frequently found in modern HPC hardware. These include:

For more details, see the UPC Required Library Specification and the UPC Optional Library Specification.









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This page last modified on Monday, 05-May-2014 16:37:30 PDT