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Parallel Processing

Supercomputer applications are characterized by the need for the fastest possible execution; the use of multiple processors in parallel is an important technique for achieving this performance. Parallel processing requires support from multiple system components, including previous hit architecture next hit, operating systems, and programming language. At the architectural level, the cost of operations used to communicate among or synchronize processors (e.g., shared-memory access, message passing) places lower bounds on the granularity of parallelism (the amount of computation between successive interactions) that can be supported. The operating system must provide fast access to these features (i.e., low-overhead communication mechanisms and shared-memory support), and provide explicit resource allocation, as indicated in the previous section. Applications will only use parallelism if they can reliably obtain performance improvements from it; this requires that multiple processors be readily available to such applications. Much work has been done in the areas of languages, libraries, and tools, but more remains to be done; the goal should be to make parallel programming as easy as sequential programming. A common need across all levels of the system is effective support for performance analysis and debugging. This reflects the need for speed in all supercomputer applications, especially in those that have been structured to take advantage of parallelism.


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