Future of Computing

Accelerator Interconnects: Optimizing Communication Between Processing Elements

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Accelerator Interconnects: A Primer

Accelerator interconnects are high-speed networks that connect the processing elements (PEs) of an accelerator. PEs are the individual computing units that perform the actual computation in an accelerator. The interconnect is responsible for transferring data between the PEs, as well as for communicating with the host CPU and other system components.

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There are a number of different types of accelerator interconnects, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The most common type of interconnect is a mesh network, which connects each PE to a small number of neighboring PEs. This type of network is relatively simple to implement and can achieve good performance for applications with a high degree of locality. However, mesh networks can become congested when the number of PEs is large.

Another type of interconnect is a tree network, which connects the PEs in a hierarchical fashion. Tree networks are more scalable than mesh networks, but they can suffer from higher latency. A third type of interconnect is a fat tree network, which combines the features of mesh and tree networks. Fat tree networks offer good performance and scalability, but they are more complex to implement than mesh or tree networks.

The choice of accelerator interconnect is a critical design decision, as it can have a significant impact on the overall performance of the accelerator. The designer must carefully consider the application’s performance requirements, as well as the available budget and resources, in order to select the best interconnect for the job.

Optimizing Communication Between Processing Elements

The performance of an accelerator is often limited by the communication between the PEs. This is because the interconnect is a shared resource, and any traffic on the interconnect can delay the execution of other PEs. There are a number of techniques that can be used to optimize communication between PEs, including:

  • Data coalescing: This technique reduces the number of messages that are sent over the interconnect by combining multiple data transfers into a single message.
  • Buffering: This technique allows PEs to send data to a buffer in the interconnect, which can then be transferred to other PEs at a later time. This can help to reduce the number of messages that are sent over the interconnect, and it can also help to improve performance by allowing PEs to overlap communication with computation.
  • Virtual channels: This technique allows multiple messages to be sent over the same physical link at the same time. This can help to improve performance by reducing the amount of time that PEs spend waiting for the interconnect to become available.

By using these techniques, it is possible to significantly improve the performance of an accelerator by reducing the amount of time that is spent communicating between PEs.

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Conclusion

Accelerator interconnects are a critical component of any accelerator design. The choice of interconnect can have a significant impact on the overall performance of the accelerator. By carefully considering the application’s performance requirements, as well as the available budget and resources, the designer can select the best interconnect for the job.

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