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name Punditsdkoslkdosdkoskdo

Prefetching Examples?

Can anyone give an example or a link to an example which uses __builtin_prefetch in GCC (or just the asm instruction prefetcht0 in general) to gain a substantial performance advantage? In particular, I'd like the example to meet the following criteria:

  1. It is a simple, small, self-contained example.
  2. Removing the __builtin_prefetch instruction results in performance degradation.
  3. Replacing the __builtin_prefetch instruction with the corresponding memory access results in performance degradation.

That is, I want the shortest example showing __builtin_prefetch performing an optimization that couldn't be managed without it.

Here's an actual piece of code that I've pulled out of a larger project. (Sorry, it's the shortest one I can find that had a noticable speedup from prefetching.) This code performs a very large data transpose.

This example uses the SSE prefetch instructions, which may be the same as the one that GCC emits.

To run this example, you will need to compile this for x64 and have more than 4GB of memory. You can run it with a smaller datasize, but it will be too fast to time.

#include <iostream>
using std::cout;
using std::endl;

#include <emmintrin.h>
#include <malloc.h>
#include <time.h>
#include <string.h>

#define ENABLE_PREFETCH


#define f_vector    __m128d
#define i_ptr       size_t
inline void swap_block(f_vector *A,f_vector *B,i_ptr L){
    //  To be super-optimized later.

    f_vector *stop = A + L;

    do{
        f_vector tmpA = *A;
        f_vector tmpB = *B;
        *A++ = tmpB;
        *B++ = tmpA;
    }while (A < stop);
}
void transpose_even(f_vector *T,i_ptr block,i_ptr x){
    //  Transposes T.
    //  T contains x columns and x rows.
    //  Each unit is of size (block * sizeof(f_vector)) bytes.

    //Conditions:
    //  - 0 < block
    //  - 1 < x

    i_ptr row_size = block * x;
    i_ptr iter_size = row_size + block;

    //  End of entire matrix.
    f_vector *stop_T = T + row_size * x;
    f_vector *end = stop_T - row_size;

    //  Iterate each row.
    f_vector *y_iter = T;
    do{
        //  Iterate each column.
        f_vector *ptr_x = y_iter + block;
        f_vector *ptr_y = y_iter + row_size;

        do{

#ifdef ENABLE_PREFETCH
            _mm_prefetch((char*)(ptr_y + row_size),_MM_HINT_T0);
#endif

            swap_block(ptr_x,ptr_y,block);

            ptr_x += block;
            ptr_y += row_size;
        }while (ptr_y < stop_T);

        y_iter += iter_size;
    }while (y_iter < end);
}
int main(){

    i_ptr dimension = 4096;
    i_ptr block = 16;

    i_ptr words = block * dimension * dimension;
    i_ptr bytes = words * sizeof(f_vector);

    cout << "bytes = " << bytes << endl;
//    system("pause");

    f_vector *T = (f_vector*)_mm_malloc(bytes,16);
    if (T == NULL){
        cout << "Memory Allocation Failure" << endl;
        system("pause");
        exit(1);
    }
    memset(T,0,bytes);

    //  Perform in-place data transpose
    cout << "Starting Data Transpose...   ";
    clock_t start = clock();
    transpose_even(T,block,dimension);
    clock_t end = clock();

    cout << "Done" << endl;
    cout << "Time: " << (double)(end - start) / CLOCKS_PER_SEC << " seconds" << endl;

    _mm_free(T);
    system("pause");
}

When I run it with ENABLE_PREFETCH enabled, this is the output:

bytes = 4294967296
Starting Data Transpose...   Done
Time: 0.725 seconds
Press any key to continue . . .

When I run it with ENABLE_PREFETCH disabled, this is the output:

bytes = 4294967296
Starting Data Transpose...   Done
Time: 0.822 seconds
Press any key to continue . . .

So there's a 13% speedup from prefetching.

EDIT:

Here's some more results:

Operating System: Windows 7 Professional/Ultimate
Compiler: Visual Studio 2010 SP1
Compile Mode: x64 Release

Intel Core i7 860 @ 2.8 GHz, 8 GB DDR3 @ 1333 MHz
Prefetch   : 0.868
No Prefetch: 0.960

Intel Core i7 920 @ 3.5 GHz, 12 GB DDR3 @ 1333 MHz
Prefetch   : 0.725
No Prefetch: 0.822

Intel Core i7 2600K @ 4.6 GHz, 16 GB DDR3 @ 1333 MHz
Prefetch   : 0.718
No Prefetch: 0.796

2 x Intel Xeon X5482 @ 3.2 GHz, 64 GB DDR2 @ 800 MHz
Prefetch   : 2.273
No Prefetch: 2.666
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