Ask.Cyberinfrastructure

Under what conditions should I use MPI to run jobs in parallel?

Is there a general rule for when to consider parallelizing a job? Such as, the amount of data to be processed, or the amount of time it takes to run in serial? Or do other criteria take precedence; even though a calculation takes a really long time to run on one node, does that necessarily mean it will benefit from parallelization?

Probably the most important criterion to consider when deciding whether or not to run a job in parallel is the ease with which the code can be parallelized. Some codes are not conducive to parallelization; for example, it relies on dependencies throughout) and are better left to run in serial. But, if the code has sections that can be run at the same time on different nodes (as in, these sections do not have interdependencies and can independently compute a value that can be shared later in the code), it’s probably a good idea to restructure the code in parallel. MPI (Message Passing Interface) is the prevalent mechanism with which to parallelize an HPC code. As its name suggests, it enables sharing of information among compute nodes (and dispersal of this information to places in the code that require it). Since more than one value can be calculated simultaneously, in theory the computation should complete in less time than it would if kept in serial form.