Sun Studio 12 Update 1: OpenMP API User's Guide

7.3 Solaris OS Tuning Features

New features have been introduced in the Solaris OS that improve the performance of OpenMP programs. These include Memory Placement Optimizations, locality groups, and Multiple Page Size Support.

7.3.1 Locality Groups

The concept of a locality group (lgroup) has been introduced in Solaris to represent a set of CPU-like and memory-like hardware resources that are within some latency of each other.

Solaris OS assigns a thread to an lgroup when the thread is created. That lgroup is called the thread's home lgroup. Solaris OS runs the thread on the CPUs in the thread's home lgroup and allocates memory from that lgroup whenever possible. If resources from the home lgroup are unavailable, Solaris allocates resources from other lgroups. When a thread has affinity for more than one lgroup, the OS allocates resources from lgroups chosen in order of affinity strength.

The lgroup APIs export the lgroup abstraction for applications to use for observability and performance tuning. A new library, called liblgrp, contains the new APIs. Applications can use the APIs to perform the following tasks:

For example, the lgrp_affinity_set() function sets the affinity that a thread or set of threads have for a given lgroup. The OS uses the lgroup affinities as advice as to where to run a thread and allocate its memory.

The madvise() Standard C library function can be used to advise the OS that a region of user virtual memory is expected to follow a particular pattern of use. For example, calling madvise() with the MADV_ACCESS_LWP argument tells the kernel that the next thread to touch the specified region of memory will access it most heavily, so the kernel will try to allocate the memory and other resources for this range and the thread accordingly. Use of the madvise() function can increase system performance when used by programs that have specific knowledge of their access patterns over memory. The kernel needs information about the likely pattern of an application's memory use in order to allocate memory resources efficiently.

For more information about locality groups, refer to the manual Solaris: Memory and Thread Placement Optimization Developer's Guide

7.3.2 Multiple Page Size Support

The Multiple Page Size Support (MPSS) feature allows a program to use different page sizes for different regions of virtual memory. The default Solaris page size is relatively small (8KB on UltraSPARC processors and 4KB on AMD64 Opteron processors). The default page size on a specific platform can be obtained with the Solaris OS command: pagesize . The -a option on this command lists all the supported page sizes. (See the pagesize(1) man page for details.)

Applications that suffer from too many TLB misses may experience a performance boost by using a larger page size. TLB misses can be measured using the Sun Performance Analyzer.

There are three ways to change the default page size for an application: