Limits and Costs of Parallel Programming

From section 4 of Chapter 3 of this resource, study the section titled "Amdahl's Law."

Limits and Costs of Parallel Programming

Amdahl's Law:
  • Amdahl's Law states that potential program speedup is defined by the fraction of code (P) that can be parallelized:
                     1
    speedup   =   -------- 
                   1  - P
  • If none of the code can be parallelized, P = 0 and the speedup = 1 (no speedup).
  • If all of the code is parallelized, P = 1 and the speedup is infinite (in theory).
  • If 50% of the code can be parallelized, maximum speedup = 2, meaning the code will run twice as fast.
  • Introducing the number of processors performing the parallel fraction of work, the relationship can be modeled by:
                       1  
    speedup   =   ------------ 
                    P   +  S
                   ---
                    N
  • where P = parallel fraction, N = number of processors and S = serial fraction.


 


  • It soon becomes obvious that there are limits to the scalability of parallelism. For example:
                       speedup
          -------------------------------------
    N     P = .50   P = .90   P = .95   P = .99
  -----   -------   -------   -------   -------
     10      1.82      5.26      6.89      9.17
    100      1.98      9.17     16.80     50.25     
  1,000      1.99      9.91     19.62     90.99
 10,000      1.99      9.91     19.96     99.02
100,000      1.99      9.99     19.99     99.90


"Famous" quote: You can spend a lifetime getting 95% of your code to be parallel, and never achieve better than 20x speedup no matter how many processors you throw at it!

  • However, certain problems demonstrate increased performance by increasing the problem size. For example:
    2D Grid Calculations     85 seconds   85%    
    Serial fraction          15 seconds   15%    

We can increase the problem size by doubling the grid dimensions and halving the time step. This results in four times the number of grid points and twice the number of time steps. The timings then look like:

    2D Grid Calculations     680 seconds   97.84%    
    Serial fraction           15 seconds    2.16%  

  • Problems that increase the percentage of parallel time with their size are more scalable than problems with a fixed percentage of parallel time.

Source: Blaise Barney, https://computing.llnl.gov/tutorials/parallel_comp/
Public Domain Mark This work is in the Public Domain.

Last modified: Wednesday, 15 July 2020, 9:55 PM