[MPI3 Fortran] [Interop-tr] [Mpi-forum] Comment on Fortran WG5 ballot N1846

N.M. Maclaren nmm1 at cam.ac.uk
Fri Apr 15 05:12:54 CDT 2011

On Apr 14 2011, Rolf Rabenseifner wrote:
>> > - TARGET buf
>> Why should that work? Fortran compilers are required to take
>> notice of it only when also operating with POINTER variables. And
>> there is nothing stopping them from moving such data dynamically,
>> if they update all associated pointers. That's old technology,
>> after all.
>CALL MPI_Irecv(buf, rq)
>CALL MPI_Wait(rq)

I have omitted your discussion because it's separate from my point.

TARGET will stop code movement as well as ASYNCHRONOUS in a C-like
implementation, but also implies a lot more, and so is a LOT less
efficient.  That's not good, for a start.

My main point was that, in a compiler with a compacting garbage
collector, it allows that to move targets at any time provided that it
also updates its pointers, and that is well-established technology.
C and C++ have implicitly stated that compacting garbage collectors
are not allowed in conforming implementations; Fortran has not and I,
for one, would oppose any move to do so.

>> > - Using a call to a dummy routine MPI_F_SYNC_REG(buf)
>> >   immediately after MPI_Wait
>> > - Storing buf as a module variable or in a common block
>Therefore the problem is solved.
>If not, please can you show a detailed code, how 
>such a compiled code could work and in xnew is at the end
>***not*** the value that was stored in buf by MPI_Wait.

Both of the above fail as soon as those are passed through
intermediate subroutines, as is commonly coded:

    PROGRAM Main
        REAL :: buffer(100)
        CALL Fred(buffer)
        CALL Joe(buffer)
    SUBROUTINE Fred (arg)
        REAL :: arg(:)
        CALL MPI_Isend(arg,...)
    SUBROUTINE Joe (arg)
        REAL :: arg(:)
        CALL MPI_Wait(...)
        CALL MPI_F_SYNC_REG(arg)

This example also addresses Bill's and Van's proposed hacks, which
won't work with this, either.

>> >> - (VOALTILE buf, not recommended)
>> Why should that work any better than ASYNCHRONOUS? All it says (in
>> both
>> C and Fortran, incidentally) is "All bets are off - consult your
>> vendor
>> documentation for what might happen." ASYNCHRONOUS has the right
>> semantics.
>CALL MPI_Irecv(buf, rq)
>CALL MPI_Wait(rq)
>By definition of volatile, the compiler has to guarantee
>that all accesses to buf are done through the memory
>and in the sequence of the application.

Er, no.  Sorry.  That is a common myth, but is not so in any of C, C++
or Fortran.  Let's skip the ungodly mess that volatile is in C, and
consider just Fortran.

> Or have I misunderstood the wording of VOLATILE: Fortran 2008, 5.3.19: 
> "The VOLATILE attribute specifies that an object may be referenced, 
> defined, or become undefined, by means not specified by the program." Our 
> MPI_Wait is such a "by means not specified by the program."

You have misunderstood.  It is entirely up to the processor what
constitutes "by means not specified by the program".  Regrettably,
unlike C (which does THIS aspect better than Fortran), it is not
processor-dependent and therefore need not be documented.

Until such time as an interpretation decides otherwise, a compiler can
perfectly take the approach that interaction with asynchronous agents
using VOLATILE (and hence example C.2.3) does not take place in 'real
time' but only when an explicit synchronisation function is called.
POSIX and other designs use that model, after all.

Indeed, some compilers on some systems cannot practically implement
example C.2.3, without turning every access to a VOLATILE object into a
heavyweight, doubly synchronising subroutine call, and there is nothing
in the normative wording that requires a compiler to do that.  They
might decide not to do so, and would still conform.

> Fortran 2008, NOTE 5.25: "The Fortran processor should use the most 
> recent definition of a volatile object when a value is required. 
> Likewise, it should make the most recent Fortran definition available. It 
> is the programmer's responsibility to manage any interaction with 
> non-Fortran processes."
>"recent" means, that the sequence must not be modified.
>Otherwise "xnew=buf" does not access the recent definition of buf.

That is non-normative.  But, even ignoring that, it says that the
programmer must get the constraints right, and doesn't say what they
are.  All it says is that it's the programmer's responsibility to obey
them (which implies finding out what they are!)

>If I should be on the list, then it is okay for me.

That would be good.

>On Apr 14 2011, Van Snyder wrote:
>Of course, if the actual argument BUF is already a TYPE(*) DIMENSION(..)
>dummy argument, or even an assumed-size array, the compiler can't use

Don't bet on it :-)

Caller-copying is a well-known compilation technique, for a start,
and there are other ways it can happen.

>I don't quite understand how ASYNCHRONOUS knows when to stop preventing
>code motion.  Does it prevent motion of variables with the attribute
>across all calls throughout a scoping unit where they have it, or does
>it just prevent code motion across calls in which the asynchronous
>variable is an actual argument?  If the former, then the call to
>MPI_F_SYNC_REG isn't necessary.  If you want to restrict the range where
>ASYNCHRONOUS applies, use a BLOCK construct.

Basically, it says the compiler must allow for the array being accessed
at any point, whether or not it is visible in the currently executing
procedure.  How it does it is its business!

I accept that the standard currently implies that is required only for
Fortran asynchronous I/O, but it IS the mechanism designed for this
purpose and VASTLY the simplest and cleanest solution is to use it for
MPI as well.  Yes, we could have ASYNCHRONOUS, C_ASYNCHRONOUS,
silly ....

I am certainly not denying that clarification would be useful, and will
try to think of a suitable proposal for the June WG5.  While the wording
is tricky, I doubt that it is extensive and might be solved by adding a
new processor-dependency - i.e. whether the compiler supports
asynchronous I/O in a companion processor.  Or in several other ways.

Nick Maclaren.

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