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GASNet mpi-conduit documentation
Dan Bonachea <>

User Information:

mpi-conduit is a portable implementation of GASNet over MPI, the Message
Passing Interface (, which is implemented on most
HPC systems.

Where this conduit runs:

mpi-conduit is fully portable and should work correctly on any POSIX-like
system with a working MPI implementation (compliant with specification MPI 1.1
or later) and a functional C99 compiler.  mpi-conduit does not exploit the MPI
RMA interfaces introduced in MPI 2.0/3.0.

mpi-conduit is primarily intended as a migration tool for systems where a native GASNet
implementation is not yet available.  It is not intended for production use on
networks that expose a high-performance network API, where an appropriate
GASNet native conduit implementation should be preferred. It is not intended
for use on Ethernet harware, where udp-conduit should usually be preferred.

Configuration-time variables:

In order to compile mpi-conduit, and subsequently use it, GASNet must
know how to invoke your mpicc and mpirun (or equivalents).  GASNet's
configure script uses some sensible defaults, but these may not work
on all platforms.  In particular, if you have set CC to a non-default
C compiler, you will likely need to set mpicc as well.  Here are
the relevant variables:

MPI_CC		the program to use as the compiler and linker
MPI_CFLAGS	options passed to MPI_CC when used as a compiler
MPI_LIBS	options passed to MPI_CC when used as a linker
MPIRUN_CMD	template for invoking mpirun, or equivalent

GASNet's configure script will test the MPI_CC, MPI_CFLAGS and
MPI_LIBS variable by trying approximately the following:

	$MPI_CC $MPI_CFLAGS -c foo.c
	$CC -c bar.c
	$MPI_CC $MPI_LIBS -o foo foo.o bar.o

Note this test (and mpi-conduit) require that $CC and $MPI_CC
are ABI- and link-compatible. They need not be the same underlying
compiler, but that is also recommended when possible, to minimize
compatibility issues.

GASNet's configure script does not attempt to run MPIRUN_CMD.
MPIRUN_CMD is a template which tells the gasnetrun_mpi
script how to invoke your mpirun.  The template may include
the following strings for variable substitution at run time:

"%N"	The number of MPI processes requested
"%P"	The GASNet program to run
"%A"	The arguments to the GASNet program
"%C"	Alias for "%P %A"
"%H"	Expands to the value of environment variable GASNET_NODEFILE.
	This file should be one hostname per line.

The default is "mpirun -np %N %C".  You may need a full path to
mpirun if the correct version is not in your PATH.  This template
is also the mechanism to add extra arguments - for instance:
  MPIRUN_CMD='mpirun -np %N -hostfile my_hosts_file %C'
  MPIRUN_CMD='mpirun -np %N -hostfile %H %C'

Optional compile-time settings:

* All the compile-time settings from extended-ref (see the extended-ref README)

Job Spawning

If using UPC, Titanium, etc. the language-specific commands should be used
to launch applications.  Otherwise, mpi-conduit applications can be launched 
like any other MPI program (eg using mpirun directly) or via the gasnetrun_mpi utility:
  + usage summary:
    gasnetrun_mpi -n <n> [options] [--] prog [program args]
      -n <n>                number of processes to run
      -N <n>                number of nodes to run on (not suppored on all mpiruns)
      -c <n>                number of cpus per process (not suppored on all mpiruns)
      -E <VAR1[,VAR2...]>   list of environment vars to propagate
      -v                    be verbose about what is happening
      -t                    test only, don't execute anything (implies -v)
      -k                    keep any temporary files created (implies -v)
      -(no)encode[-args,-env]   use encoding of args, env or both to help with buggy spawners

Recognized environment variables:

* All the standard GASNet environment variables (see top-level README)

* GASNET_NETWORKDEPTH - depth of network buffers to allocate (defaults to 4)
  can also be set as AMMPI_NETWORKDEPTH (GASNET_NETWORKDEPTH takes precedence)
  mpi-conduit's max MPI buffer usage at any time is bounded by:
   4 * depth * 65 KB preposted non-blocking recvs
   2 * depth * 65 KB non-blocking sends (AMMedium/AMLong)
   2 * depth * 78 byte non-blocking sends (AMShort)

* AMMPI_CREDITS_PP - number of send credits each node has for each remote target 
  node in the token-based flow-control. Setting this value too high can increase
  the incidence of unexpected messages at the target, reducing effective bandwidth.
  Setting the value too low can induce premature backpressure at the initiator,
  reducing communication overlap and effective bandwidth. Defaults to depth*2.

* AMMPI_CREDITS_SLACK - number of send credits that may be coalesced at the target
  during a purely one-way AM messaging stream before forcing a reply to be
  generated for refunding credits. Defaults to AMMPI_CREDITS_PP*0.75.

* AMMPI_SYNCSEND_THRESH - size threshhold above which to use synchronous
  non-blocking MPI sends, a workaround for buggy MPI implementations on a
  few platforms. 0 means always use synchronous sends, -1 means never use them
  (the default on most platforms).

* GASNET_MPI_THREAD - can be set to one of the values:
  to request the MPI library be initialized with a specific threading support
  level. The default value depends on the GASNet threading mode.
  + SINGLE - sufficient for mpi-conduit in GASNET_SEQ mode. This MPI thread mode is 
    only guaranteed to work correctly in a strictly single-threaded process 
    (ie no threads anywhere in the system). 
  + FUNNELED - Other threads exist in the process, but never call MPI or GASNet.
  + SERIALIZED - The default in GASNET_PAR or GASNET_PARSYNC mode, where multiple 
    client threads may call GASNet, resulting in MPI calls serialized by mpi-conduit. 
  + MULTIPLE - Multi-threaded GASNet+MPI process that makes direct calls to MPI.
  See MPI documentation for detailed explanation of the threading levels.

Known problems:

* Proper operation of GASNet and its client often depends on environment
variables passed to all the processes.  Unfortunately, there is no uniform way
to achieve this across different implementations of mpirun.  The gasnetrun_mpi
script tries many different things and is known to work correctly for OpenMPI
and for MPICH and most of its derivatives (including MPICH-NT, MVICH and
MVAPICH).  For assistance with any particular MPI implementation, search the
GASNet Bugzilla server (URL below) and open a new bug (registration required)
if you cannot find information on your MPI.

* See the GASNet Bugzilla server for details on other known bugs:

Future work:


Design Overview:

The core API implementation is a very thin wrapper around the AMMPI
implementation by Dan Bonachea. See documentation in the other/ammpi directory
or the AMMPI webpage ( for details.
AMMPI requires an MPI 1.1 or newer compliant MPI implementation, and performance 
varies widely across MPI implementations (based primarily on their performance
for non-blocking sends and recvs - MPI_ISend/MPI_IRecv).

AMMPI performs all its MPI calls on a separate, private MPI communicator, which
is strongly guaranteed by the MPI spec to isolate it from any other MPI
communication in the application, so there's never a possibility of deadlock or
hard-limit resource contention between the two.

The mpi-conduit directly uses the extended-ref implementation for the extended
API - see the extended-ref directory for details.