A comparison of PETSc library and HPF implementations of an archetypal PDS computation

M. Ethesham Hayder*, David E. Keyes, Piyush Mehrotra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Two paradigms for distributed-memory parallel computation that free the application programmer from the details of message passing are compared for an archetypal structured scientific computation - a nonlinear, structured-grid partial differential equation boundary value problem - using the same algorithm on the same hardware. Both paradigms, parallel libraries represented by Argonne's PETSc, and parallel languages represented by the Portland Group's HPF, are found to be easy to use for this problem class, and both are reasonably effective in exploiting concurrency after a short learning curve. The level of involvement required by the application programmer under either paradigm includes specification of the data partitioning (corresponding to a geometrically simple decomposition of the domain of the PDE). Programming in SPMD style for the PETSc library requires writing the routines that discretize the PDE and its Jacobian, managing subdomain-to-processor mappings (affine global-to-local index mappings), and interfacing to library solver routines. Programming for HPF requires a complete sequential implementation of the same algorithm, introduction of concurrency through subdomain blocking (an effort similar to the index mapping), and modest experimentation with rewriting loops to elucidate to the compiler the latent concurrency. Correctness and scalability are cross-validated on up to 32 nodes of an IBM SP2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-423
Number of pages9
JournalAdvances in Engineering Software
Issue number3-6
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under NASA Contract Nos NAS1-97046 and NAS1-19480, whilst the authors were in residence at ICASE MS 403, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA 23681-0001. Access to the NASA SP2s was provided under the NASA High Performance Computing and Communication Program.


  • Nonlinear elliptic boundary value problems
  • Parallel languages
  • Parallel libraries
  • Parallel scientific computing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • General Engineering


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