German scientists developing the GPI-2 programming interface have been awarded this year’s Frauenhofer prize for a groundbreaking solution to application-oriented problems.
Rui Machado, Dr Christian Simmendinger and Dr Carsten Lojewski developed the GPI-2 – a new version of Global Address Space Programming Interface – and are now evaluating the first industrial applications.
The project was initiated in 2011, after the researchers realized they weren’t able to solve some computing tasks with the currently available methods.
“I was trying to solve a calculation and simulation problem related to seismic data,” said Dr Carsten Lojewski from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM. “But existing methods weren’t working. The problems were a lack of scalability, the restriction to bulk-synchronous, two-sided communication, and the lack of fault tolerance. So out of my own curiosity I began to develop a new programming model.”
Using an asynchronous communication approach, GPI-2 enables each processor involved in the supercomputing operation to directly access data regardless of which memory it is on and without affecting other parallel processes.
“High-performance computing has become a universal tool in science and business, a fixed part of the design process in fields such as automotive and aircraft manufacturing,” said Dr Christian Simmendinger. “Take the example of aerodynamics: one of the simulation cornerstones in the European aerospace sector, the software TAU, was ported to the GPI platform in a project with the German Aerospace Center (DLR). GPI allowed us to significantly increase parallel efficiency.”
Even though GPI is a tool for specialists, it has the potential to revolutionize algorithmic development for high-performance software. Researchers believe the new interface will become a key component enabling the next generation of supercomputers, the so called exascale computers, which are1,000 times faster than the mainframes of today.