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Exploring Tradeoffs Between Power and Performance for a Scientific Visualization Algorithm
Stephanie Labasan
Committee: Hank Childs (chair), Allen Malony, Boyana Norris
Directed Research Project(Nov 2015)
Keywords: high-performance computing, power, performance, scientific visualization

Power is becoming a major design constraint in the world of high- performance computing (HPC). This constraint affects the hard- ware being considered for future architectures, the ways it will run software, and the design of the software itself. Within this context, we explore tradeoffs between power and performance. Visualization algorithms themselves merit special consideration, since they are more data-intensive in nature than traditional HPC programs like simulation codes. This data-intensive property enables different approaches for optimizing power usage.

Our study focuses on the isosurfacing algorithm, and explores changes in power and performance as clock frequency changes, as power usage is highly dependent on clock frequency. We vary many of the factors seen in the HPC context — programming model (MPI vs. OpenMP), implementation (generalized vs. optimized), concurrency, architecture, and data set — and measure how these changes affect power-performance properties. The result is a study that in- forms the best approaches for optimizing energy usage for a representative visualization algorithm.