Bio: Scott Rixner is an academic researcher from Rice University. The author has contributed to research in topics: Stream processing & Network interface. The author has an hindex of 34, co-authored 89 publications receiving 5921 citations. Previous affiliations of Scott Rixner include Stanford University & IBM.
Papers published on a yearly basis
••01 May 2000
TL;DR: This paper introduces memory access scheduling, a technique that improves the performance of a memory system by reordering memory references to exploit locality within the 3-D memory structure.
Abstract: The bandwidth and latency of a memory system are strongly dependent on the manner in which accesses interact with the “3-D” structure of banks, rows, and columns characteristic of contemporary DRAM chips. There is nearly an order of magnitude difference in bandwidth between successive references to different columns within a row and different rows within a bank. This paper introduces memory access scheduling, a technique that improves the performance of a memory system by reordering memory references to exploit locality within the 3-D memory structure. Conservative reordering, in which the first ready reference in a sequence is performed, improves bandwidth by 40% for traces from five media benchmarks. Aggressive reordering, in which operations are scheduled to optimize memory bandwidth, improves bandwidth by 93% for the same set of applications. Memory access scheduling is particularly important for media processors where it enables the processor to make the most efficient use of scarce memory bandwidth.
TL;DR: The power-efficient Imagine stream processor achieves performance densities comparable to those of special-purpose embedded processors and can sustain 18.3 gops on mpeg-2 encoding.
Abstract: The power-efficient Imagine stream processor achieves performance densities comparable to those of special-purpose embedded processors. Executing programs mapped to streams and kernels, a single Imagine processor is expected to have a peak performance of 20 gflops and sustain 18.3 gops on mpeg-2 encoding.
••05 Mar 2008
TL;DR: This paper is the first to study the impact of the VMM scheduler on performance using multiple guest domains concurrently running different types of applications, and offers insight into the key problems in VMM scheduling for I/O and motivates future innovation in this area.
Abstract: This paper explores the relationship between domain scheduling in avirtual machine monitor (VMM) and I/O performance. Traditionally, VMM schedulers have focused on fairly sharing the processor resources among domains while leaving the scheduling of I/O resources as asecondary concern. However, this can resultin poor and/or unpredictable application performance, making virtualization less desirable for applications that require efficient and consistent I/O behavior.This paper is the first to study the impact of the VMM scheduler on performance using multiple guest domains concurrently running different types of applications. In particular, different combinations of processor-intensive, bandwidth-intensive, andlatency-sensitive applications are run concurrently to quantify the impacts of different scheduler configurations on processor and I/O performance. These applications are evaluated on 11 different scheduler configurations within the Xen VMM. These configurations include a variety of scheduler extensions aimed at improving I/O performance. This cross product of scheduler configurations and application types offers insight into the key problems in VMM scheduling for I/O and motivates future innovation in this area.
TL;DR: The central idea behind stream processing is to organize an application into streams and kernels to expose the inherent locality and concurrency in media-processing applications.
Abstract: The demand for flexibility in media processing motivates the use of programmable processors. Stream processing bridges the gap between inflexible special-purpose solutions and current programmable architectures that cannot meet the computational demands of media-processing applications. The central idea behind stream processing is to organize an application into streams and kernels to expose the inherent locality and concurrency in media-processing applications. The performance of the Imagine stream processor on these media application is given.
••28 Mar 2010
TL;DR: The performance of HDFS is analyzed and several performance issues are uncovered, including architectural bottlenecks exist in the Hadoop implementation that result in inefficient HDFS usage due to delays in scheduling new MapReduce tasks.
Abstract: Hadoop is a popular open-source implementation of MapReduce for the analysis of large datasets. To manage storage resources across the cluster, Hadoop uses a distributed user-level filesystem. This filesystem - HDFS - is written in Java and designed for portability across heterogeneous hardware and software platforms. This paper analyzes the performance of HDFS and uncovers several performance issues. First, architectural bottlenecks exist in the Hadoop implementation that result in inefficient HDFS usage due to delays in scheduling new MapReduce tasks. Second, portability limitations prevent the Java implementation from exploiting features of the native platform. Third, HDFS implicitly makes portability assumptions about how the native platform manages storage resources, even though native filesystems and I/O schedulers vary widely in design and behavior. This paper investigates the root causes of these performance bottlenecks in order to evaluate tradeoffs between portability and performance in the Hadoop distributed filesystem.
•01 Jan 1988
TL;DR: This book provides a clear and simple account of the key ideas and algorithms of reinforcement learning, which ranges from the history of the field's intellectual foundations to the most recent developments and applications.
Abstract: Reinforcement learning, one of the most active research areas in artificial intelligence, is a computational approach to learning whereby an agent tries to maximize the total amount of reward it receives when interacting with a complex, uncertain environment. In Reinforcement Learning, Richard Sutton and Andrew Barto provide a clear and simple account of the key ideas and algorithms of reinforcement learning. Their discussion ranges from the history of the field's intellectual foundations to the most recent developments and applications. The only necessary mathematical background is familiarity with elementary concepts of probability. The book is divided into three parts. Part I defines the reinforcement learning problem in terms of Markov decision processes. Part II provides basic solution methods: dynamic programming, Monte Carlo methods, and temporal-difference learning. Part III presents a unified view of the solution methods and incorporates artificial neural networks, eligibility traces, and planning; the two final chapters present case studies and consider the future of reinforcement learning.
••21 Mar 2007
TL;DR: The Dryad execution engine handles all the difficult problems of creating a large distributed, concurrent application: scheduling the use of computers and their CPUs, recovering from communication or computer failures, and transporting data between vertices.
Abstract: Dryad is a general-purpose distributed execution engine for coarse-grain data-parallel applications. A Dryad application combines computational "vertices" with communication "channels" to form a dataflow graph. Dryad runs the application by executing the vertices of this graph on a set of available computers, communicating as appropriate through flies, TCP pipes, and shared-memory FIFOs.The vertices provided by the application developer are quite simple and are usually written as sequential programs with no thread creation or locking. Concurrency arises from Dryad scheduling vertices to run simultaneously on multiple computers, or on multiple CPU cores within a computer. The application can discover the size and placement of data at run time, and modify the graph as the computation progresses to make efficient use of the available resources.Dryad is designed to scale from powerful multi-core single computers, through small clusters of computers, to data centers with thousands of computers. The Dryad execution engine handles all the difficult problems of creating a large distributed, concurrent application: scheduling the use of computers and their CPUs, recovering from communication or computer failures, and transporting data between vertices.
01 Nov 2002
TL;DR: Drive development with automated tests, a style of development called “Test-Driven Development” (TDD for short), which aims to dramatically reduce the defect density of code and make the subject of work crystal clear to all involved.
Abstract: From the Book: “Clean code that works” is Ron Jeffries’ pithy phrase. The goal is clean code that works, and for a whole bunch of reasons: Clean code that works is a predictable way to develop. You know when you are finished, without having to worry about a long bug trail.Clean code that works gives you a chance to learn all the lessons that the code has to teach you. If you only ever slap together the first thing you think of, you never have time to think of a second, better, thing. Clean code that works improves the lives of users of our software.Clean code that works lets your teammates count on you, and you on them.Writing clean code that works feels good.But how do you get to clean code that works? Many forces drive you away from clean code, and even code that works. Without taking too much counsel of our fears, here’s what we do—drive development with automated tests, a style of development called “Test-Driven Development” (TDD for short). In Test-Driven Development, you: Write new code only if you first have a failing automated test.Eliminate duplication. Two simple rules, but they generate complex individual and group behavior. Some of the technical implications are:You must design organically, with running code providing feedback between decisionsYou must write your own tests, since you can’t wait twenty times a day for someone else to write a testYour development environment must provide rapid response to small changesYour designs must consist of many highly cohesive, loosely coupled components, just to make testing easy The two rules imply an order to the tasks ofprogramming: 1. Red—write a little test that doesn’t work, perhaps doesn’t even compile at first 2. Green—make the test work quickly, committing whatever sins necessary in the process 3. Refactor—eliminate all the duplication created in just getting the test to work Red/green/refactor. The TDD’s mantra. Assuming for the moment that such a style is possible, it might be possible to dramatically reduce the defect density of code and make the subject of work crystal clear to all involved. If so, writing only code demanded by failing tests also has social implications: If the defect density can be reduced enough, QA can shift from reactive to pro-active workIf the number of nasty surprises can be reduced enough, project managers can estimate accurately enough to involve real customers in daily developmentIf the topics of technical conversations can be made clear enough, programmers can work in minute-by-minute collaboration instead of daily or weekly collaborationAgain, if the defect density can be reduced enough, we can have shippable software with new functionality every day, leading to new business relationships with customers So, the concept is simple, but what’s my motivation? Why would a programmer take on the additional work of writing automated tests? Why would a programmer work in tiny little steps when their mind is capable of great soaring swoops of design? Courage. Courage Test-driven development is a way of managing fear during programming. I don’t mean fear in a bad way, pow widdle prwogwammew needs a pacifiew, but fear in the legitimate, this-is-a-hard-problem-and-I-can’t-see-the-end-from-the-beginning sense. If pain is nature’s way of saying “Stop!”, fear is nature’s way of saying “Be careful.” Being careful is good, but fear has a host of other effects: Makes you tentativeMakes you want to communicate lessMakes you shy from feedbackMakes you grumpy None of these effects are helpful when programming, especially when programming something hard. So, how can you face a difficult situation and: Instead of being tentative, begin learning concretely as quickly as possible.Instead of clamming up, communicate more clearly.Instead of avoiding feedback, search out helpful, concrete feedback.(You’ll have to work on grumpiness on your own.) Imagine programming as turning a crank to pull a bucket of water from a well. When the bucket is small, a free-spinning crank is fine. When the bucket is big and full of water, you’re going to get tired before the bucket is all the way up. You need a ratchet mechanism to enable you to rest between bouts of cranking. The heavier the bucket, the closer the teeth need to be on the ratchet. The tests in test-driven development are the teeth of the ratchet. Once you get one test working, you know it is working, now and forever. You are one step closer to having everything working than you were when the test was broken. Now get the next one working, and the next, and the next. By analogy, the tougher the programming problem, the less ground should be covered by each test. Readers of Extreme Programming Explained will notice a difference in tone between XP and TDD. TDD isn’t an absolute like Extreme Programming. XP says, “Here are things you must be able to do to be prepared to evolve further.” TDD is a little fuzzier. TDD is an awareness of the gap between decision and feedback during programming, and techniques to control that gap. “What if I do a paper design for a week, then test-drive the code? Is that TDD?” Sure, it’s TDD. You were aware of the gap between decision and feedback and you controlled the gap deliberately. That said, most people who learn TDD find their programming practice changed for good. “Test Infected” is the phrase Erich Gamma coined to describe this shift. You might find yourself writing more tests earlier, and working in smaller steps than you ever dreamed would be sensible. On the other hand, some programmers learn TDD and go back to their earlier practices, reserving TDD for special occasions when ordinary programming isn’t making progress. There are certainly programming tasks that can’t be driven solely by tests (or at least, not yet). Security software and concurrency, for example, are two topics where TDD is not sufficient to mechanically demonstrate that the goals of the software have been met. Security relies on essentially defect-free code, true, but also on human judgement about the methods used to secure the software. Subtle concurrency problems can’t be reliably duplicated by running the code. Once you are finished reading this book, you should be ready to: Start simplyWrite automated testsRefactor to add design decisions one at a time This book is organized into three sections. An example of writing typical model code using TDD. The example is one I got from Ward Cunningham years ago, and have used many times since, multi-currency arithmetic. In it you will learn to write tests before code and grow a design organically.An example of testing more complicated logic, including reflection and exceptions, by developing a framework for automated testing. This example also serves to introduce you to the xUnit architecture that is at the heart of many programmer-oriented testing tools. In the second example you will learn to work in even smaller steps than in the first example, including the kind of self-referential hooha beloved of computer scientists.Patterns for TDD. Included are patterns for the deciding what tests to write, how to write tests using xUnit, and a greatest hits selection of the design patterns and refactorings used in the examples. I wrote the examples imagining a pair programming session. If you like looking at the map before wandering around, you may want to go straight to the patterns in Section 3 and use the examples as illustrations. If you prefer just wandering around and then looking at the map to see where you’ve been, try reading the examples through and refering to the patterns when you want more detail about a technique, then using the patterns as a reference. Several reviewers have commented they got the most out of the examples when they started up a programming environment and entered the code and ran the tests as they read. A note about the examples. Both examples, multi-currency calculation and a testing framework, appear simple. There are (and I have seen) complicated, ugly, messy ways of solving the same problems. I could have chosen one of those complicated, ugly, messy solutions to give the book an air of “reality.” However, my goal, and I hope your goal, is to write clean code that works. Before teeing off on the examples as being too simple, spend 15 seconds imagining a programming world in which all code was this clear and direct, where there were no complicated solutions, only apparently complicated problems begging for careful thought. TDD is a practice that can help you lead yourself to exactly that careful thought.
TL;DR: The research shows that NoC constitutes a unification of current trends of intrachip communication rather than an explicit new alternative.
Abstract: The scaling of microchip technologies has enabled large scale systems-on-chip (SoC). Network-on-chip (NoC) research addresses global communication in SoC, involving (i) a move from computation-centric to communication-centric design and (ii) the implementation of scalable communication structures. This survey presents a perspective on existing NoC research. We define the following abstractions: system, network adapter, network, and link to explain and structure the fundamental concepts. First, research relating to the actual network design is reviewed. Then system level design and modeling are discussed. We also evaluate performance analysis techniques. The research shows that NoC constitutes a unification of current trends of intrachip communication rather than an explicit new alternative.
••26 Apr 2009
TL;DR: In this paper, the performance of non-graphics applications written in NVIDIA's CUDA programming model is evaluated on a microarchitecture performance simulator that runs NVIDIA's parallel thread execution (PTX) virtual instruction set.
Abstract: Modern Graphic Processing Units (GPUs) provide sufficiently flexible programming models that understanding their performance can provide insight in designing tomorrow's manycore processors, whether those are GPUs or otherwise. The combination of multiple, multithreaded, SIMD cores makes studying these GPUs useful in understanding tradeoffs among memory, data, and thread level parallelism. While modern GPUs offer orders of magnitude more raw computing power than contemporary CPUs, many important applications, even those with abundant data level parallelism, do not achieve peak performance. This paper characterizes several non-graphics applications written in NVIDIA's CUDA programming model by running them on a novel detailed microarchitecture performance simulator that runs NVIDIA's parallel thread execution (PTX) virtual instruction set. For this study, we selected twelve non-trivial CUDA applications demonstrating varying levels of performance improvement on GPU hardware (versus a CPU-only sequential version of the application). We study the performance of these applications on our GPU performance simulator with configurations comparable to contemporary high-end graphics cards. We characterize the performance impact of several microarchitecture design choices including choice of interconnect topology, use of caches, design of memory controller, parallel workload distribution mechanisms, and memory request coalescing hardware. Two observations we make are (1) that for the applications we study, performance is more sensitive to interconnect bisection bandwidth rather than latency, and (2) that, for some applications, running fewer threads concurrently than on-chip resources might otherwise allow can improve performance by reducing contention in the memory system.