MIT researchers have developed software that makes computer simulations of physical systems run much more efficiently on so-called multicore chips. In experiments involving chips with 24 separate cores — or processors — simulations of fluid flows were at least 50 percent more efficient with the new software than they were with conventional software. And that figure should only increase with the number of cores.
Complex computer models — such as atom-by-atom simulations of physical materials, or high-resolution models of weather systems — typically run on multiple computers working in parallel. A software management system splits the model into separate computational tasks and distributes them among the computers. In the last five years or so, as multicore chips have become more common, researchers have simply transferred the old management systems over to them. But John Williams, professor of information engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), CEE postdoc David Holmes, and Peter Tilke, a visiting scientist in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, have developed a new management system that exploits the idiosyncrasies of multicore chips to improve performance.