SIMD parallelism has become an increasingly important mechanism for delivering performance in modern CPUs, due its power efficiency and relatively low cost in die area compared to other forms of parallelism. Unfortunately, languages and compilers for CPUs have not kept up with the hardware's capabilities. Existing CPU parallel programming models focus primarily on multi-core parallelism, neglecting the substantial computational capabilities that are available in CPU SIMD vector units. GPU-oriented languages like OpenCL support SIMD but lack capabilities needed to achieve maximum efficiency on CPUs and suffer from GPU-driven constraints that impair ease of use on CPUs.
We have developed a compiler, the Intel SPMD Program Compiler (ispc), that delivers very high performance on CPUs thanks to effective use of both multiple processor cores and SIMD vector units. ispc draws from GPU programming languages, which have shown that for many applications the easiest way to program SIMD units is to use a single-program, multiple-data (SPMD) model, with each instance of the program mapped to one SIMD lane. We discuss language features that make ispc easy to adopt and use productively with existing software systems and show that ispc delivers up to 35x speedups on a 4-core system and up to 240x speedups on a 40-core system for complex workloads (compared to serial C++ code).
"ispc: A SPMD Compiler for High-Performance CPU Programming"
Matt Pharr and William R. Mark
In Proceedings Innovative Parallel Computing (InPar), San Jose, CA, May 2012.