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Parallel Computing Terminology

Parallel Computing Terminology

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Published by: maxsen021 on Sep 02, 2009
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What is Parallel Computing? 
Traditionally, software has been written for 
 serial 
computation:
o
To be run on a single computer having a single Central Processing Unit(CPU);
o
A problem is broken into a discrete series of instructions.
o
Instructions are executed one after another.
o
Only one instruction may execute at any moment in time.
In the simplest sense,
 parallel computing 
is the simultaneous use of multiplecompute resources to solve a computational problem:
o
To be run using multiple CPUs
o
A problem is broken into discrete parts that can be solved concurrently
o
Each part is further broken down to a series of instructions
o
Instructions from each part execute simultaneously on different CPUs
 
The compute resources can include:
o
A single computer with multiple processors;
o
An arbitrary number of computers connected by a network;
o
A combination of both.
The computational problem usually demonstrates characteristics such as theability to be:
o
Broken apart into discrete pieces of work that can be solvedsimultaneously;
o
Execute multiple program instructions at any moment in time;
o
Solved in less time with multiple compute resources than with a singlecompute resource.
Uses for Parallel Computing:
 
Historically, parallel computing has been considered to be "the high end of computing", and has been used to model difficult scientific and engineering problems found in the real world. Some examples:
o
Atmosphere, Earth, Environment
o
Physics - applied, nuclear, particle, condensed matter, high pressure,fusion, photonics
o
Bioscience, Biotechnology, Genetics
o
Chemistry, Molecular Sciences
o
Geology, Seismology
o
Mechanical Engineering - from prosthetics to spacecraft
o
Electrical Engineering, Circuit Design, Microelectronics
 
o
Computer Science, Mathematics
Today, commercial applications provide an equal or greater driving force in thedevelopment of faster computers. These applications require the processing of large amounts of data in sophisticated ways. For example:
o
Databases, data mining
o
Oil exploration
o
Web search engines, web based business services
o
Medical imaging and diagnosis
o
Pharmaceutical design
o
Management of national and multi-national corporations
o
Financial and economic modeling
o
Advanced graphics and virtual reality, particularly in the entertainmentindustry
o
 Networked video and multi-media technologies
o
Collaborative work environments
Why Use Parallel Computing? 
Main Reasons:
 
Save time and/or money:
In theory, throwing more resources at a task willshorten its time to completion, with potential cost savings. Parallel clusters can be built from cheap, commodity components.
Solve larger problems:
Many problems are so large and/or complex that it isimpractical or impossible to solve them on a single computer, especially givenlimited computer memory. For example:
o
 
) problemsrequiring PetaFLOPS and PetaBytes of computing resources.
o
Web search engines/databases processing millions of transactions per second
Provide concurrency:
A single compute resource can only do one thing at a time.Multiple computing resources can be doing many things simultaneously. For example, the Access Grid (www.accessgrid.org
 
) provides a global collaborationnetwork where people from around the world can meet and conduct work "virtually".

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