The case for GPGPU spatial multitasking

Jacob T. Adriaens*, Katherine Compton, Nam Sung Kim, Michael J. Schulte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

118 Scopus citations


The set-top and portable device market continues to grow, as does the demand for more performance under increasing cost, power, and thermal constraints. The integration of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) into these devices and the emergence of general-purpose computations on graphics hardware enable a new set of highly parallel applications. In this paper, we propose and make the case for a GPU multitasking technique called spatial multitasking. Traditional GPU multitasking techniques, such as cooperative and preemptive multitasking, partition GPU time among applications, while spatial multitasking allows GPU resources to be partitioned among multiple applications simultaneously. We demonstrate the potential benefits of spatial multitasking with an analysis and characterization of General-Purpose GPU (GPGPU) applications. We find that many GPGPU applications fail to utilize available GPU resources fully, which suggests the potential for significant performance benefits using spatial multitasking instead of, or in combination with, preemptive or cooperative multitasking. We then implement spatial multitasking and compare it to cooperative multitasking using simulation. We evaluate several heuristics for partitioning GPU stream multiprocessors (SMs) among applications and find spatial multitasking shows an average speedup of up to 1.19 over cooperative multitasking when two applications are sharing the GPU. Speedups are even higher when more than two applications are sharing the GPU.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 18th IEEE International Symposium on High Performance Computer Architecture, HPCA - 18 2012
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes
Event18th IEEE International Symposium on High Performance Computer Architecture, HPCA - 18 2012 - New Orleans, LA, United States
Duration: Feb 25 2012Feb 29 2012

Publication series

NameProceedings - International Symposium on High-Performance Computer Architecture
ISSN (Print)1530-0897


Conference18th IEEE International Symposium on High Performance Computer Architecture, HPCA - 18 2012
CountryUnited States
CityNew Orleans, LA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hardware and Architecture

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