HPX

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Terminology

This section gives definitions for some of the terms used throughout the HPX documentation and source code.

Locality

A locality in HPX describes a synchronous domain of execution, or the domain of bounded upper response time. This normally is just a single node in a cluster or a NUMA domain in a SMP machine.

Active Global Address Space (AGAS)

HPX incorporates a global address space. Any executing thread can access any object within the domain of the parallel application with the caveat that it must have appropriate access privileges. The model does not assume that global addresses are cache coherent; all loads and stores will deal directly with the site of the target object. All global addresses within a Synchronous Domain are assumed to be cache coherent for those processor cores that incorporate transparent caches. The Active Global Address Space used by HPX differs from research PGAS models. Partitioned Global Address Space is passive in their means of address translation. Copy semantics, distributed compound operations, and affinity relationships are some of the global functionality supported by AGAS.

Process

The concept of the "process" in HPX is extended beyond that of either sequential execution or communicating sequential processes. While the notion of process suggests action (as do "function" or "subroutine") it has a further responsibility of context, that is, the logical container of program state. It is this aspect of operation that process is employed in HPX. Furthermore, referring to "parallel processes" in HPX designates the presence of parallelism within the context of a given process, as well as the coarse grained parallelism achieved through concurrency of multiple processes of an executing user job. HPX processes provide a hierarchical name space within the framework of the active global address space and support multiple means of internal state access from external sources. It also incorporates capabilities based access rights for protection and security.

Parcel

The Parcel is a component in HPX that communicates data, invokes an action at a distance, and distributes flow-control through the migration of continuations. Parcels bridge the gap of asynchrony between synchronous domains while maintaining symmetry of semantics between local and global execution. Parcels enable message-driven computation and may be seen as a form of "active messages". Other important forms of message-driven computation predating active messages include dataflow tokens, the J-machine's support for remote method instantiation, and at the coarse grained variations of Unix remote procedure calls, among others. This enables work to be moved to the data as well as performing the more common action of bringing data to the work. A parcel can cause actions to occur remotely and asynchronously, among which are the creation of threads at different system nodes or synchronous domains.

Local Control Object (LCO)

A local control object (sometimes called a lightweight control object) is a general term for the synchronization mechanisms used in HPX. Any object implementing a certain concept can be seen as an LCO. This concepts encapsulates the ability to be triggered by one or more events which when taking the object into a predefined state will cause a thread to be executed. This could either create a new thread or resume an existing thread.

The LCO is a family of synchronization functions potentially representing many classes of synchronization constructs, each with many possible variations and multiple instances. The LCO is sufficiently general that it can subsume the functionality of conventional synchronization primitives such as spinlocks, mutexes, semaphores, and global barriers. However due to the rich concept an LCO can represent powerful synchronization and control functionality not widely employed, such as dataflow and futures (among others), which open up enormous opportunities for rich diversity of distributed control and operation.


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