9.3. Launching only on the local node

It is common to develop MPI applications on a single workstation or laptop, and then move to a larger parallel / HPC environment once the MPI application is ready.

Open MPI supports running multi-process MPI jobs on a single machine. In such cases, you can simply avoid listing a hostfile or remote hosts, and simply list a number of MPI processes to launch. For example:

shell$ mpirun -n 6 mpi-hello-world
Hello world, I am 0 of 6 (running on my-laptop))
Hello world, I am 1 of 6 (running on my-laptop)
...
Hello world, I am 5 of 6 (running on my-laptop)

If you do not specify the -n option, mpirun will default to launching as many MPI processes as there are processor cores (not hyperthreads) on the machine.

9.3.1. MPI communication

When running on a single machine, Open MPI will most likely use the ob1 PML and the following BTLs for MPI communication between peers:

  • self: used for sending and receiving loopback MPI messages — where the source and destination MPI process are the same.

  • sm: used for sending and receiving MPI messages where the source and destination MPI processes can share memory (e.g., via SYSV or POSIX shared memory mechanisms).

9.3.2. Shared memory MPI communication

Error

TODO This should really be moved to the networking section.

The sm BTL supports two modes of shared memory communication:

  1. Two-copy: Otherwise known as “copy-in / copy-out”, this mode is where the sender copies data into shared memory and the receiver copies the data out.

    This mechanism is always available.

  2. Single copy: In this mode, the sender or receiver makes a single copy of the message data from the source buffer in one process to the destination buffer in another process. Open MPI supports three flavors of shared memory single-copy transfers:

    • Linux KNEM. This is a standalone Linux kernel module, made specifically for HPC and MPI libraries to enable high-performance single-copy message transfers.

      Open MPI must be able to find the KNEM header files in order to build support for KNEM.

    • Linux XPMEM. Similar to KNEM, this is a standalone Linux kernel module, made specifically for HPC and MPI libraries to enable high-performance single-copy message transfers. It is derived from the Cray XPMEM system.

      Open MPI must be able to find the XPMEM header files in order to build support for XPMEM.

    • Linux Cross-Memory Attach (CMA). This mechanism is built-in to modern versions of the Linux kernel. Although more performance than the two-copy shared memory transfer mechanism, CMA is the lowest performance of the single-copy mechanisms. However, CMA is likely the most widely available because it is enabled by default in several modern Linux distributions.

      Open MPI must be built on a Linux system with a recent enough Glibc and kernel version in order to build support for Linux CMA.

Which mechanism is used at run time depends both on how Open MPI was built and how your system is configured. You can check to see which single-copy mechanisms Open MPI was built with via two mechanisms:

  1. At the end of running configure, Open MPI emits a list of transports for which it found relevant header files and libraries such that it will be able to build support for them. You might see lines like this, for example:

    Shared memory/copy in+copy out: yes
    Shared memory/Linux CMA: yes
    Shared memory/Linux KNEM: no
    Shared memory/XPMEM: no
    

    The above output indicates that Open MPI will be built with 2-copy (as mentioned above, 2-copy is always available) and with Linux CMA support. KNEM and XPMEM support will not be built.

  2. After Open MPI is installed, the ompi_info command can show which smsc (shared memory single copy) components are available:

    shell$ ompi_info | grep smsc
              MCA smsc: cma (MCA v2.1.0, API v1.0.0, Component v5.1.0)
    

    This Open MPI installation only supports the Linux CMA single-copy mechanism.

Note

As implied by the SMSC component names, none of them are supported on macOS. macOS users will use the two-copy mechanism.