Sparse matrix-vector multiplication (spMVM) is the most time-consuming kernel in many numerical algorithms and has been studied extensively on all modern processor and accelerator architectures. However, the optimal sparse matrix data storage format is highly hardware-specific, which could become an obstacle when using heterogeneous systems. Also, it is as yet unclear how the wide single instruction multiple data (SIMD) units in current multi- and many-core processors should be used most efficiently if there is no structure in the sparsity pattern of the matrix. We suggest SELL-C-sigma, a variant of Sliced ELLPACK, as a SIMD-friendly data format which combines long-standing ideas from General Purpose Graphics Processing Units (GPGPUs) and vector computer programming. We discuss the advantages of SELL-C-sigma compared to established formats like Compressed Row Storage (CRS) and ELLPACK, and show its suitability on a variety of hardware platforms (Intel Sandy Bridge, Intel Xeon Phi and Nvidia Tesla K20) for a wide range of test matrices from different application areas. Using appropriate performance models we develop deep insight into the data transfer properties of the SELL-C-sigma spMVM kernel. SELL-C-sigma comes with two tuning parameters whose performance impact across the range of test matrices is studied and for which reasonable choices are proposed. This leads to a hardware-independent (“catch-all”) sparse matrix format, which achieves very high efficiency for all test matrices across all hardware platforms.
(M. Kreutzer, G. Hager, G. Wellein, H. Fehske, and A. R. Bishop: “A unified sparse matrix data format for modern processors with wide SIMD units.” Submitted, July 2013 [preprint])