Efficient Wire Formats for High Performance Computing

Fabian Bustamante, Greg Eisenhauer, Karsten Schwan and Patrick Widener

College of Computing
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
{fabianb, eisen, schwan, pmw}@cc.gatech.edu


High performance computing is being increasingly utilized in non-traditional circumstances where it must interoperate with other applications. For example, online visualization is being used to monitor the progress of applications, and real-world sensors are used as inputs to simulations. Whenever these situations arise, there is a question of what communications infrastructure should be used to link the different components. Traditional HPC-style communications systems such as MPI offer relatively high performance, but are poorly suited for developing these less tightly-coupled cooperating applications. Object-based systems and meta-data formats like XML offer substantial plug-and-play flexibility, but with substantially lower performance. We observe that the flexibility and baseline performance of all these systems is strongly determined by their `wire format', or how they represent data for transmission in a heterogeneous environment. We examine the performance implications of different wire formats and present an alternative with significant advantages in terms of both performance and flexibility.

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Fabian E. Bustamante
Last modified: Sat Aug 4 16:56:05 EDT 2001