Making Distributed Shared Memory Simple, Yet Efficient


Mark Swanson, Leigh Stoller, and John Carter

Department of Computer Science

University of Utah




Recent research on distributed shared memory (DSM) has focussed on improving performance by reducing the communication overhead of DSM. Features added include lazy release consistency-based coherence protocols and new interfaces that give programmers the ability to hand tune communication. These features have increased DSM performance at the expense of requiring increasingly complex DSM systems or increasingly cumbersome programming. They have also increased the computation overhead of DSM, which has partially offset the communication-related performance gains. We chose to implement a simple DSM system, Quarks, with an eye towards hiding most computation overhead while using a very low latency transport layer to reduce the effect of {\em communication overhead}. The resulting performance is comparable to that of far more complex DSM systems, such as Treadmarks and Cashmere.  

Full paper appears in the Proc. of the Third International Workshop on High-Level Parallel Programming Models and Supportive Environments, IEEE Computer Society, March 1998.