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HPCVL Working Template (HWT)

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This is a short introduction to the HPCVL Working Template (HWT), a toolkit that was developed by Gang Liu to facilitate parallel programming tasks. The HWT supplies tools that allow the efficient maintenance of multiple versions of code from a single source file, as well as automatic relative debugging and simple timing experiments. The Fortran, C, and C++ programming languages are supported, as are the MPI and OpenMP parallel-programming packages. The emphasis is on portability and simplicity. The HWT is accessible on the HPCVL Sunfire Cluster.

What is the HPCVL Working Template (HWT) ?

The HPCVL Working Template is a toolset designed to facilitate code development and testing, with a specific emphasis on parallel programming.
The HWT supports the Fortran, C, and C++ programming languages. Most of the packages is written in these and can be recompiled on any (Unix-based) platform. At present, a version generated on Solaris 9 using the native Sun compilers is installed on the HPCVL Sunfire cluster and accessible for its users. Versions for other platforms may be produced on request.
The HWT consists of a number of script files that can be invoked by the user, as well as a library that contains essential routines, a set of modules, and some auxiliary files. It is only available in pre-compiled form, i.e. no source-code is supplied.

What functionality does the Working Template offer ?

The HWT was designed to facilitate common programming tasks. It has a distinct emphasis on parallel programming. The package offers three distinct functionalities:

  1. The maintenance of multiple program versions is enabled by means of pre-processor constructs (see Question 4). Several pre-defined default versions are available. This allows the user to keep only one original source code, and automatically generate various versions from it. The HWT generates the associated version source code in separate directories, constructs a makefile and compiles the code. The insertion of the pre-processor constructs, as well as the definition and control of the versions is left to the user.
  2. Automatic Relative Debugging allows the user to produce error reports by running a specific debugging version of the program (see Question 5). Automatic implies that the HWT is performing error checks without the involvement of the user, thus making it suitable for the processing of large amounts of data. Relative refers to the usage of user-specified reference data to determine the correctness of a program. Commonly these data come from another version of the program. For instance, this offers the possibility to use a serial version of a program (which is assumed to be correct) to debug a parallel version.
  3. Timing facilities are supplied in the HWT in the form of a few simple routines (see Question 6). This allows the user to automatically generate tables of CPU times and speedup values. This is especially useful for the determination of scaling properties of parallel code with respect to its serial counterpart.

We discuss these main functionalities in more details below in this FAQ. Please note that for the proper usage of the HWT it is necessary to consult the User's Manual. This FAQ file is not meant as replacement.

How do I use the HWT on HPCVL computers?

The HPCVL Working Template is installed on HPCVL machines in the /opt/hwt directory. Access is simple. To run the HWT it might be useful to include the install directory in the $PATH variable, although this is not required:

setenv PATH $PATH":/op/hwt" (for csh)
PATH=$PATH":/opt/hwt"; export PATH (for ksh, bsh, bash)

The WT may be used simply by executing the main script, /opt/hwt/hwt, or if the$PATH variable is set as above, simply type hwt.

Note that this is only the initial run of the WT, and will create a number of other script files in the current working directory. These may then be used for specific tasks. How this is done will be discussed in more detail in the following.
The initial run of hwt generates a script called call.hwt. This script can be used for subsequent calls of the HWT without the need for spelling out the hwt root directory, or to set the $PATH variable. Whenever a source file was modified, or other changes were made, call.hwt will regenerate all files if necessary, and back up the original ones.

How do I maintain multiple program versions using the HWT?

The HWT's first function is to process source code. It is often desirable to produce several versions of a program, and quite frequently these versions have a large degree of overlap, ie, parts of the code are used by several of them. The HWT allows the user to keep code for multiple versions in a single "original" source code file, which is then used to generate code corresponding to each version separately.

This is done by means of so-called pre-processor constructs. These commonly have the following form:

    (...Code A...) 
#ifdef KEYWORD1
(...Code Block 1...)
(...Code Block 2...)
(...Code B...)

The directives #ifdef, #else, and #endif are not used by a standard compiler, but by a pre-compiler such a cpp for C and C++, or fpp for Fortran. The HWT uses such pre-compilers to generate multiple versions of the code. In the above example, Code A and Code B would appear in all code versions. In contrast, Code Block 1 would only appear in code for which KEYWORD1 is defined, and Code Block 2 only in code for which it is not. The definitions for which KEYWORDs are associated with which version of the code is left to the user.

The user is asked to specify this and other details in a file called control. A template of such a file will be placed into the working directory the first time the HWT is executed. After the user has edited the control file and inserted the necessary pre-processor contructs, the HWT performs the following tasks when executed (by typing call.hwt):

  1. It detects all source code in the current working directory on the basis of file extensions.
  2. It pre-processes the code using cpp or fpp to generate the source code corresponding to different versions.
  3. It places the different version codes into separate directories and creates a makefile for each of them.
  4. It compiles the versions to create object files, modules, and executables.

Most of these actions are performed automatically. Details are specified in thecontrol file. For a detailed description of these features, please consult the manual.

Note that the HWT installation on HPCVL Sun SPARC machines was compiled with the Sun Studio compilers, which are the native compilers on these systems. This installation will only work properly with the Sun Studio compilers. If you are using other versions, please consider migrating, as there will be incompatibilities in the HT modules.

How does automatic relative debugging work in the HWT?

The second functionality of the HWT is Automatic Relative Debugging (ARD). This is a debugging method in which reference data, often from another version of the program, are used to determine automatically if intermediate data in a program execution are correct or not. While the reference data may be taken from any source, it is more common that this method is used to compare a "correct" version of the program with the one that needs to be debugged. For instance, if the goal is to parallelize a program, the serial program version may serve as a reference for the parallel one under development.

To achieve this it is necessary to define which data need to be compared with which. The HWT solves this problem by means of a set of library routines that are supplied with the package. Calls to these routines are used to define a unique Data Identifier, which is then printed out with the data that need to be compared. The comparison only takes place if the data identifier matches between the reference data and the debugging data. The data identifiers used in the HWT are of a specific standard form that consists of three components, namely:

  1. A Principal Component which is usually a descriptive string that is indicative of the physical meaning of the data to be compared.
  2. An Instance Component that consists of both strings and integer variables, and indicates the instance of those data in the code. This is often used to indicate possibly multiple loop indices.
  3. An additional Physical Index (integer) is used to uniquely label simple data inside a data structure. This enables the comparison of ordinary arrays with distributed ones in parallel programming.

Since it is often whole arrays that need to be compared, the Physical Index becomes important if the internal structure of the array in the debugging version of the program differs from the one in the reference. This is the case when non-distributed arrays in a serial program serve as reference for distributed arrays in a parallel program.

Space does not allow us to explain the usage of routine calls for the construction of data identifiers here. This is explained in the manual. Here we can only outline the basic steps of a debugging run:

  1. The user inserts calls to debugging routines into the code. These appear in pre-processor constructs, and therefore are specific to a debugging version of the code. This is done in both the version to be debugged and the reference version. These calls construct data identifiers and initiate the output of the debugging data (into intermediate files).
  2. Both the debugging version and the reference version are executed after using the HWT to compile them (which links in the HWT library). This causes the generation of intermediate files that contain the data used for debugging.
  3. A call to the script call.debugger.hwt causes the HWT to compare the corresponding data items and detect deviations that exceed a certain tolerance limit (user-defined). Error reports are generated that contain information necessary to locate the problems.

For many cases, the use of 4 or 5 different routines is sufficient to debug relatively large data structures and locate errors. Since any comparison is done automatically, no "manual" comparison of single data values is required.

How do I use the HWT for timing my code?

The HWT also offers a simple way to introduce timing into your code to optimize it for execution speed, and - in the case of parallel programs - to determine its scaling properties. This is done using calls to two routines that are part of the HWT library. One of them indicates the beginning of a timing region in the code, the other its end. The second routine also serves to label a region to distinguish it from others.

If a region of code that is contained in a timing region is executed multiple times, timings are added up, i.e. they are cumulative. The HWT also keeps track of how many times the region was executed. Here is how a timing experiment can be performed:

  1. The user inserts calls to timing routines into the code, bracketing the regions that are to be timed. These calls are usually placed within pre-processor constructs to restrict them to specific timing versions.
  2. All versions that are to be included in the timing experiment are executed. This might include a serial version, and multiple runs of a parallel version, differing by the number of processors employed. This will produce several intermediate files with timing information.
  3. Executing the script call.cputimer.hwt will retrieve the timing information and compare it. A report in table format will be printed, including CPU times and speedups (usually with respect to a serial or one-processor run). For multiple-processor runs this information is printed separately for each processor.

Details about the usage of the timing routines may be found in the HWT manual.

Can I get the HWT for my computer?

Yes. We are offering the HWT in a pre-compiled form for personal use to both HPCVL users and other academic individuals, free of charge. However, we require that a license agreement be signed and that the use be restricted to the individual who signed it. For details, please contact us.

Where can I learn details about the HWT?

The most important source of information about the HPCVL Working Template is, of course, the HWT Manual. The present documented version is 5.3.
HPCVL also provides Workshops on a regular basis, and one of these is partly devoted to the usage of the HWT. Check out our web page at to see if one is scheduled in the near future. For HPCVL users, we are also supplying user support; we are always glad to answer any questions that you might not find answered in the manual.

It doesn't work. Where can I get help?

For HPCVL user, we supply user support; you can call or send email to one of our support staff, who include several scientific programmers. Keep in mind that we support many people at any given time, so we cannot do the coding for you. But we can do our best to help you solve your problems with our multi-processor machines.