# Low computational performance calling BLAS routines (gemm)

Usual symptom(s):
• IPC Scaling: The IPC Scaling (IPCS) compares IPC to the reference case. (more...)

In many scientific applications, parallel matrix-matrix multiplications represent the computational bottleneck. Consider the following matrix-matrix multiplication:

$\bf{C}= \bf {A} \times \bf {B}$

where, $$\bf {A}$$ is a matrix with $$N_m$$ rows and $$N_k$$ columns (i.e. $$N_m \times N_k$$), $$\bf {B}$$ is a $$N_k \times N_n$$ matrix so that $$\bf {C}$$ is a $$N_m \times N_n$$ matrix.

In the case where each process has access to $$\bf {A}$$ and $$\bf {B}$$, a strategy to parallelize the work is to divide $$\bf{B}$$ into blocks so as to partition the computation over all the processes, and use the BLAS dgemm routine on the individual blocks. A sketch of the aforementioned strategy can be represented as follows, where for simplicity we assume the number of columns splits evenly over the processes:

$\bf {C}_b = \bf {A} \times \bf {B}_b$

where $$\bf {C}_b$$ and $$\bf{B}_b$$ are matrix blocks generated by splitting over the columns. For $$p$$ processes, the blocks $$\bf {B}_b$$ are $$N_k \times N_w$$, where $$N_w=N_n/p$$, and the blocks $$\bf{C}_b$$ are $$N_m \times N_w$$. In this way, the higher the number of processes $$p$$, the smaller the number of columns of $$\bf{B}_b$$ and $$\bf{C}_b$$. The pseudo-code implementation of the aforementioned algorithm can be:

  given:
N_m, N_n, N_k

execute:
get_my_process_id(proc_id)
get_number_of_processes(n_proc)

DEFINE first, last, len_n_part AS INTEGER
DEFINE alpha, beta AS DOUBLE

first = float(N_n) * proc_id / n_proc
last = (float(N_n) * (proc_id + 1) / n_proc) - 1

len_n_part = last - first + 1;

SET alpha TO 1.0
SET beta TO 0.0
call dgemm('N','N',N_m, len_n_part, N_k,alpha ,A, N_m, B[:,first:last], N_k, beta ,C, N_m)


In an ideal case, when the number of processes is doubled, the computational time halves. This strategy has been used in software implementing density functional theory (DFT). However, a POP Audit (see related report bellow) for one such application showed a low global efficiency and a non-optimal performance. One of the sources for the lack of performance was the poor Computation Scaling due to the aforementioned splitting of the matrix-matrix multiplications.

Further work undertaken by POP in a ‘Proof of Concept’ study identified that certain splitting of one (or both) input matrices can result in non-optimal performance. The best-practice page is intended to show the importance of undertaking experiments to identify optimal matrix splittings to ensure good computational performance.

Speedup tests

A simple benchmark code is used to measure the parallel scaling for the pattern, by replicating the amount of computation for $$\bf{A} \times \bf{B}_b$$ for processes on a single compute node. For timing purposes there is no need to run the actual computation on all compute nodes, since the computation per node is identical.The three matrices have size $$N_n \times N_n$$ where $$N_n = 3600$$.

The scaling plot below was obtained using the sequential dgemm subroutine from MKL in the pattern described above. For block multiplication dgemm parameters $$alpha$$ and $$beta$$ are set to $$1.0$$ and $$0.0$$, respectively.

The data below is for a fully loaded compute node on MareNostrum-4 (48 processes), the timing is measured for each process and computation is repeated $$100 \times$$ to give measurable timings. Figure 1: speedup plot.

It can be observed that partitioning the work by slitting matrix $$\bf{B}$$ over the columns results in a reduced speedup as the number of nodes increases.

Recommended best-practice(s): Related program(s):
• Low computational performance calling BLAS routines
• Related report(s): BAND ·