Using the XEON PHI on HPC

The HPC cluster includes one Intel Xeon Phi node, with an associated general access queue, phi_q.

Xeon Phi is the brand-name for a new line of co-processors that contain Intel's Many Integrated Core Architecture (MIC). The XEON PHI is a PCI-express add-on card, which is installed in a regular host computer. Each Xeon Phi card contains four 60-core CPUs @ 1 Ghz, 8 GB of RAM, and its own embedded Linux OS.

Xeon Phi Card

Submitting Phi Jobs

To submit a job for the Phi Node, simply submit it to the general access phi_q. An example submit script is below:

#MOAB -N "my_phi_job"
#MOAB -l nodes=1
#MOAB -j oe
#MOAB -q phi_q
#MOAB -l walltime=00:00:10

Execution Modes on the Phi

Jobs can be compiled one of three ways for running on the Phi system:

  1. Host Only - Similar to running a regular HPC job, and the Phi card is not used.
  2. Phi Only - A program is compiled on the host and is then run entirely on the Phi card.
  3. Hybrid - Parts of the program run on the host, and parts run on the Phi card.

Compiling for the Phi

You can compile most jobs for the Phi Node on the Submit Node, the same way you would for any other job.

If you experience any compilation errors related to missing libraries, you may need to start an interactive job to compile your code directly on the Phi node. From the login node, run:

# qsub -I -l nodes=1 -q phi_q -l walltime=1:00:00

You will see output similar to:

 qsub: waiting for job 7608043.moab.local to start

It can take a very long time for the Phi node to become available. Once it becomes available and your job runs, you will see an interactive shell:

qsub: job7608043.moab.local ready
[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 ~]$

Only Intel compilers support the Phi architecture and only the Intel MPI implementation supports running MPI programs on the Phi. All compilation occurs on the host system.

Keep in mind that the Phi runs its own flavor of Linux on a rather small system. It does not have access to general HPC libraries like NetCDF. If you need to use those libraries, you will need to compile them for the MIC architecture yourself in your home directory.

The Intel Math Kernel Library (mkl) is available for both the host (x86_64) and the MIC architectures. Just compile your software with the -mkl compiler flag.

Compiling OpenMP Multi-threaded Applications

To compile for Phi Only mode, use the -mmic flag in ICC/Fortran. This will create a binary that can run only on the Phi:

[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 ~] $ module load intel
[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 ~] $ icc -o helloworld-openmp helloworld-openmp.c -mmic -openmp
[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 ~] $ ./helloworld-openmp
-bash: ./helloworld-openmp: cannot execute binary file

[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 ~] $ ssh mic0
[paulvdm@hpc-15-35-mic0 paulvdm]$ ./helloworld-openmp
Hello World from thread = 187
Number of threads = 240

To compile for the Hybrid Mode, you must use the offload engine. Your program will run on the host computer, but parts of the code will be "offload" to the Phi.

In your code, this is done by using the offload target mic pragma for the part of the code that needs to run on the Phi. It is usually an omp parallel for loop or call to an MKL function.

You can specify which data you want to transfer between the host system and the Phi card using the in, out, and inout options. For example:

#pragma offload target(mic) out(a:length(N))
#pragma omp parallel for
for(i = 0; i < N; i++)

Compile with:

[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 ~] $ icc -o offload offload.c -openmp

Run with:

[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 ~] $ ./offload

Refer to the Intel Website for more information about the offload pragma.

Compiling for MPI Applications

MPI Applications for the Phi must be compiled with Intel's MPI compiler. If you create a Phi Only application, you must create an executable for the MIC architecture.

# Load the intel-impi-mic module and compile using mpicc or mpif90 with the -nmic flag
# We advise using a pre- or post-fix in the name of the executable, which reflects the
# target architecture
[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 example2] $ module load intel-impi-mic
[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 example2] $ mpicc -mmic -o trap-impi-mic trap.c -lm -openmp
[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 example2] $ ssh mic0
[paulvdm@hpc-15-35-mic0 paulvdm]$ cd tutorial/example2
[paulvdm@hpc-15-35-mic0 example2]$ mpiexec ./trap-impi-mic

If you create a Hybrid application, you must compile two versions of your app; one for the MIC, and one for the x86_64 host system architecture:

# Compile a an executable for both MIC and x86_64 architectures, and then create
# a configuration file for mpiexec.hydra
[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 example2]$ module purge
[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 example2]$ module load intel-impi-mic
[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 example2]$ which mpicc
[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 example2]$ mpicc -mmic -o trap-impi-mic trap.c -lm
[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 example2]$ module swap intel-impi-mic intel-impi-x86_64
[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 example2]$ which mpicc
[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 example2]$ mpicc -cc=icc -o trap-impi-x86_64 trap.c -lm
[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 example2]$ cat myrun
-host hpc-15-35 -np 8 /home/paulvdm/tutorial/example2/trap-impi-x86_64
-host mic0 -np 60 /home/paulvdm/tutorial/example2/trap-impi-mic
[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 example2]$ mpiexec.hydra --configfile myrun

Warning: although you can use the Intel MPI version on the regular compute nodes, we advise you not to. It's not integrated with the resource manager and it will not use our fast Infiniband data network.

Compiling for OpenCL Programs

You must load the intel-oc module to gain access to the ioc64 offline compiler and OpenCL libraries. The version installed on the HPC is 1.2-3.0.67279.


Below is a list of some errors you may encounter. If you find an error that is not listed here, please let us know.

Compile Errors

hello-world-openmp.c(9): warning #161: unrecognized #pragma #pragma omp parallel private(nthreads, tid)

Are you compiling with the -openmp compiler flag? This is the error messages you will see if you do not use it:

[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 example2]$ mpicc -o trap-impi-x86_64 trap.c -lm
ld: skipping incompatible /panfs/storage.local/opt/intel/impi/current/mic/lib/ when searching for -lmpigf
ld: skipping incompatible /panfs/storage.local/opt/intel/impi/current/mic/lib/libmpigf.a when searching for -lmpigf
ld: cannot find -lmpigf

Are you using the correct mpicc? Use the module list command to sww which modules you have loaded and which which mpicc to see which mpicc is in your path.

[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 example2]$ module load intel-impi-x86_64
intel-impi-x86_64(6):ERROR:150: Module 'intel-impi-x86_64' conflicts with the currently loaded module(s) 'intel-impi-mic'
intel-impi-x86_64(6):ERROR:102: Tcl command execution failed: conflict gnu-mvapich gnu-mvapich2 gnu-openmpi intel-mvapich intel-mvapich2 pgi-mvapich pgi-mvapich2 pgi-openmpi pgi-new-openmpi pgi-new-mvapich2 pgi-benchmark-openmpi-1.6-2 intel-openmpi intel-mvapich2 intel-mvapich intel-impi-mic

You cannot load both the intel-impi-x86_64 and intel-impi-mic at the same time. Use module swap or module purge/module load. You will also get this error when you load an MPI module in your ~/.bashrc file.

Runtime Errors

$ ./helloworld-openmp
./helloworld-openmp: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

This is a system error; please submit a ticket to us.

$ password: []

If the system asks you for a password when you try to login to the Phi or run a hybrid parallel program, you need to fix your ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file. The easiest way to do this is to delete your ~/.ssh directory (rm -rf/.ssh) and logout, then re-login to the HPC submit node.

$ ssh mic0
ssh: Could not resolve hostname mic0: Name or service not known

You can login to the Phi only from the host computer, which is currently hpc-15-35.

# Phi hangs when attempting to login

Unfortunately, we have noticed some stability issues when mounting the Panasas filesystem on the Phi. If you encounter an error, please let us know.

[paulvdm@hpc-15-35 example2]$ mpiexec.hydra --configfile myrun
CMA: unable to get RDMA device list
librdmacm: couldn't read ABI version.
librdmacm: assuming: 4

You can disregard this notice; your pgoram will run without error. There is a clash between the HPC infiniband drviers and the Intel infinband-over-pci-express drivers.