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Many user-level communication systems receive network messages by polling the network adapter from user space. While polling avoids the overhead of interrupt-based mechanisms, it is not suited for all parallel applications. This paper describes a general-purpose, multithreaded, communication system that uses both polling and interrupts to receive messages. Users need not insert polls into their code; through a careful integration of the user-level communication software with a user-level thread scheduler, the system can automatically switch between polling and interrupts. We have evaluated the performance of this integrated system on Myrinet, using a synthetic benchmark and a number of applications that have very different communication requirements. We show that the integrated system achieves robust performance: in most cases, it performs as well as or better than systems that rely exclusively on interrupts or polling.
Date of Conference: 27-31 Oct. 1996