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Toward understanding heterogeneity in computing

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2 Author(s)
Rosenberg, A.L. ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO, USA ; Chiang, R.C.

Heterogeneity complicates the efficient use of multicomputer platforms, but does it enhance their performance? their cost effectiveness? How can one measure the power of a heterogeneous assemblage of computers (¿cluster,¿ for short), both in absolute terms (how powerful is this cluster) and relative terms (which cluster is more powerful)? What makes one cluster more powerful than another? Is one better off with a cluster that has one super-fast computer and the rest of ¿average¿ speed or with a cluster all of whose computers are ¿moderately¿ fast? If you could replace just one computer in your cluster with a faster one, which computer would you choose: the fastest? the slowest? How does one even ask questions such as these in a rigorous, yet tractable manner? A framework is proposed, and some answers are derived, a few rather surprising. Three highlights: (1) If one can replace only one computer in a cluster by a faster one, it is provably (almost) always most advantageous to replace the fastest one. (2) If the computers in two clusters have the same mean speed, then, empirically, the cluster with the larger variance in speed is (almost) always the faster one. (3) Heterogeneity can actually lend power to a cluster!

Published in:

Parallel & Distributed Processing (IPDPS), 2010 IEEE International Symposium on

Date of Conference:

19-23 April 2010

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