cuda - texture - gpu threads




CUDA Blocks & Warps (2)

I am looking to be more efficient, to reduce my execution time and thus I need to know exactly how many threads/warps/blocks can run at once in parallel.

In short, the number of threads/warps/blocks that can run concurrently depends on several factors. The CUDA C Best Practices Guide has a writeup on Execution Configuration Optimizations that explains these factors and provides some tips for reasoning about how to shape your application.

Ok I know that related questions have been asked over and over again and I read pretty much everything I found about this, but things are still unclear. Probably also because I found and read things contradicting each other (maybe because, being from different times, they referred to devices with different compute capability, between which there seems to be quite a gap). I am looking to be more efficient, to reduce my execution time and thus I need to know exactly how many threads/warps/blocks can run at once in parallel. Also I was thinking of generalizing this and calculating an optimal number of threads and blocks to pass to my kernel based only on the number of operations I know I have to do (for simpler programs) and the system specs.

I have a GTX 550Ti, btw with compute capability 2.1. 4 SMs x 48 cores = 192 CUDA cores.

Ok so what's unclear to me is:

Can more than 1 block run AT ONCE (in parallel) on a multiprocessor (SM)? I read that up to 8 blocks can be assigned to a SM, but nothing as to how they're ran. From the fact that my max number of threads per SM (1536) is barely larger than my max number of threads per block (1024) I would think that blocks aren't ran in parallel (maybe 1 and a half?). Or at least not if I have a max number of threads on them. Also if I set the number of blocks to, let's say 4 (my number of SMs), will they be sent to a different SM each? Or I can't really control how all this is distributed on the hardware and then this is a moot point, my execution time will vary based on the whims of my device ...

Secondly, I know that a block will divide it's threads into groups of 32 threads that run in parallel, called warps. Now these warps (presuming they have no relation to each other) can be ran in parallel aswell? Because in the Fermi architecture it states that 2 warps are executed concurrently, sending one instruction from each warp to a group of 16 (?) cores, while somewhere else i read that each core handles a warp, which would explain the 1536 max threads (32*48) but seems a bit much. Can 1 CUDA core handle 32 threads concurrently?

On a simpler note, what I'm asking is: (for ex) if I want to sum 2 vectors in a third one, what length should I give them (nr of operations) and how should I split them in blocks and threads for my device to work concurrently (in parallel) at full capacity (without having idle cores or SMs).

I'm sorry if this was asked before and I didn't get it or didn't see it. Hope you can help me. Thank you!


One of the concepts that took a whle to sink in, for me, is the efficiency of the hardware support for context-switching on the CUDA chip.

Consequently, a context-switch occurs on every memory access, allowing calculations to proceed for many contexts alternately while the others wait on theri memory accesses. ne of the ways that GPGPU architectures achieve performance is the ability to parallelize this way, in addition to parallelizing on the multiples cores.

Best performance is achieved when no core is ever waiting on a memory access, and is achieved by having just enough contexts to ensure this happens.