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Compiling Dataflow into Threads: Efficient Compiler-Controlled Multithreading for Lenient Parallel Languages

Schauser, Klaus Erik
Technical Report Identifier: CSD-91-644
July 2, 1991

Abstract: Powerful non-strict parallel languages require fast dynamic scheduling. This thesis explores how the need for multithreaded execution can be addressed as a compilation problem, to achieve switching rates approaching what hardware mechanisms might provide. Compiler-controlled multithreading is examined through compilation of a lenient parallel language, ID90, for a threaded abstract machine, TAM. A key feature of TAM is that synchronization is explicit and occurs only at the start of a thread, so that a simple cost model can be applied. A scheduling hierarchy allows the compiler to schedule logically related threads closely together in time and to use registers across threads. Remote communication is via message sends and split-phase memory accesses. Messages and memory replies are received by compiler-generated message handlers which rapidly integrate these events with thread scheduling.

To compile ID90 for TAM, we employ a new parallel intermediate form, dual-graphs, with distinct control and data arcs. This provides a clean framework for partitioning the program into threads, scheduling threads, and managing registers under asynchronous execution. The compilation process is described and preliminary measurements of the effectiveness of the approach are discussed.

Previous to this work, execution of Id90 programs was limited to specialized architectures or dataflow graph interpreters. By compiling via TAM, we have achieved more than two orders of magnitude performance improvement over graph interpreters on conventional machines, making this Id90 implementation competitive with machines supporting dynamic instruction scheduling in hardware. Timing measurements show that our Id90 implementation on a standard RISC can achieve a performance close to Id90 on one processor of the recent dataflow machine Monsoon. It can be seen that the TAM partitioning presented in this thesis reduces the control overhead substantially and that more aggressive partitioning would yield modest additional benefit. There is, however, considerable room for improvement in scheduling and register management.