2.3. Dependence model

Asynchronous parallelism is enabled in OmpSs-2 by the use data-dependencies between the different tasks of the program. OmpSs-2 tasks commonly require data in order to do meaningful computation. Usually a task will use some input data to perform some operations and produce new results that can be later on be used by other tasks or parts of the program.

When an OmpSs-2 programs is being executed, the underlying runtime environment uses the data dependence information and the creation order of each task to perform dependence analysis. This analysis produces execution-order constraints between the different tasks which results in a correct order of execution for the application. We call these constraints task dependences.

Each time a new task is created its dependencies are matched against of those of existing tasks. If a dependency, either Read-after-Write (RaW), Write-after-Write (WaW) or Write-after-Read(WaR), is found the task becomes a successor of the corresponding tasks. This process creates a task dependency graph at runtime. Tasks are scheduled for execution as soon as all their predecessor in the graph have finished (which does not mean they are executed immediately) or at creation if they have no predecessors.

OpenMP introduced tasks in version 3.0 and added support for task dependences in version 4.0. In this section we briefly describe the OpenMP tasking model and define some terms that we use throughout the rest of this text to reason about it.

In the general case, the statement that follows the pragma is to be executed asynchronously. Whenever a thread encounters a task, it instantiates it and resumes its execution after the construct. The task instance can be executed either by that same thread at some other time or by another thread. The semantics can be altered through additional clauses and through the properties of the enclosing environment in which the task is instantiated.

Dependencies allow tasks to be scheduled after other tasks using the depend clause to define them. They allow to specify for each task in the program what data a task is waiting for and signaling is readiness. Note that whether the task really uses that data in the specified way its the programmer responsibility.

The depend clause admit the following keywords: in, out, inout or concurrent. The keyword is followed by a colon and a comma separated list of elements (memory references). The syntax permitted to specify memory references is described in Language section. The data references provided by these clauses are commonly named the data dependencies of the task.

The semantics of the depend clause are also extended with the in (standing for input), out (standing for output), inout (standing for input/output), and concurrent clauses to this end. All these clauses also admit a comma separated list of elements (memory references) as described in the previous paragraph.

The meaning of each clause/keyword is explained below:

  • in(memory-reference-list): If a task has an in clause that evaluates to a given lvalue, then the task will not be eligible to run as long as a previously created sibling task with an out, inout or concurrent clause applying to the same lvalue has not finished its execution.
  • out(memory-reference-list): If a task has an out clause that evaluates to a given lvalue, then the task will not be eligible to run as long as a previously created sibling task with an in, out, inout or concurrent clause applying to the same lvalue has not finished its execution.
  • inout(memory-reference-list): If a task has an inout clause that evaluates to a given lvalue, then it is considered as if it had appeared in an in clause and in an out clause. Thus, the semantics for the in and out clauses apply.
  • concurrent(memory-reference-list): the concurrent clause is a special version of the inout clause where the dependencies are computed with respect to in, out and inout but not with respect to other concurrent clauses. As it relaxes the synchronization between tasks users must ensure that either tasks can be executed concurrently either additional synchronization is used.

The usual scope of the dependency calculation is restricted to that determined by the enclosing (possibly implicit) task. That is, the contents of the depend clause of two tasks can determine dependencies between them only if they share the same parent task. In this sense, tasks define an inner and independent dependency domain into which to calculate the dependencies between its direct children.

The following example shows how to define tasks with task dependences:

void foo (int *a, int *b) {
  for (int i = 1; i < N; i++) {
#pragma oss task in(a[i-1]) inout(a[i]) out(b[i])
      propagate(&a[i-1], &a[i], &b[i]);

#pragma oss task in(b[i-1]) inout(b[i])
       correct(&b[i-1], &b[i]);

This code generates at runtime the following task graph:


The following example shows how we can use the concurrent clause to parallelize a reduction over an array:

#define N 100

void reduce(int n, int *a, int *sum) {
  for (int i = 0; i < n; i++) {
#pragma omp task concurrent(*sum)
#pragma omp atomic
      *sum += a[i];

int main() {
  int i, a[N];
  for (i = 0; i < N; ++i)
      a[i] = i + 1;

  int sum = 0;
  reduce(N, a, &sum);

#pragma omp task in(sum)
printf("The sum of all elements of 'a' is: %d\n", sum);

#pragma omp taskwait
  return 0;

Note that all tasks that compute the sum of the values of ‘a’ may be executed concurrently. For this reason we have to protect with an atomic construct the access to the ‘sum’ variable. As soon as all of these tasks finish their execution, the task that prints the value of ‘sum’ may be executed.

2.3.1. Combining task nesting and dependencies

Being able to combine task nesting and dependences is important for programmability. The following code shows an example that combines nesting and dependencies with two levels of tasks:

#pragma oss task depend(inout: a, b) // Task T1
  a++; b++;
  #pragma oss task depend(inout: a) // Task T1.1
  a += ...;
  #pragma oss task depend(inout: b) // Task T1.2
  b += ...;
  #pragma oss taskwait
#pragma oss task depend(in: a, b) depend(out: z, c, d) // Task T2
  z = ...;
  #pragma oss task depend(in: a) depend(out: c) // Task T2.1
  c = ... + a + ...;
  #pragma oss task depend(in: b) depend(out: d) // Task T2.2
  d = ... + b + ...;
  #pragma oss taskwait
#pragma oss task depend(in:a, b, d) depend(out:e, f) // Task T3
  #pragma oss task depend(in:a, d) depend(out:e) // Task T3.1
  e = ... + a + d + ...;
  #pragma oss task depend(in:b) depend(out:f) // Task T3.2
  f = ... + b + ...;
  #pragma oss taskwait
#pragma oss task depend(in: c, d, e, f) // Task T4
  #pragma oss task depend(in: c, e) // Task T4.1
  ... = ... + c + e + ...;
  #pragma oss task depend(in: d, f) // Task T4.2
  ... = ... + d + f + ...;
  #pragma oss taskwait

For brevity and without loss of generality, the inner tasks do not have dependencies between their siblings.

To parallelize the original code using a top-down approach we would perform the following steps. First, we would add the pragmas of the outer tasks. Since they have conflicting accesses over some variables, we add the depend clause. In general it is a good practice to have entries to protect all the accesses of a task. Doing this reduces the burden on the programmer, improves the maintainability of the code and reduces the chances to overlook conflicting accesses.

Then inside each task, we identify separate functionalities, convert each into a task, and add a taskwait at the end of each outer task. If we follow the same approach, the depend clause of each inner task will contain entries to protect its own accesses.

When we consider how the depend clauses are composed, we observe that outer tasks contain a combination of elements to protect their own accesses and elements that are only needed by their subtasks. This is necessary to avoid data-races between subtasks with different parents. In this sense, the latter defer the execution of the outer task until all the dependencies of its subtasks have been fulfilled. In addition, the taskwait at the end of each outer task delays the release of its dependencies until its subtasks have finished.

The inclusion in the depend clause of elements only required by subtasks and the taskwait at the end effectively link the dependency domain of the task with that of its subtasks, which otherwise would be disconnected. However, the elements of the depend clause that the task does not need for itself delay the execution of the task and thus the instantiation of its subtasks. Moreover, the taskwait causes the whole set of dependencies to be released at once. Hence, these two aspects hinder the discovery of parallelism, by delaying and partially hiding it.

2.3.2. Fine-grained release of dependencies across nesting levels

Detaching the taskwait at the end of a task from the task code allows the runtime to be made aware earlier of the fact that the task code has finished and that it will not create further subtasks. In an scenario with task nesting and dependencies, this knowledge allows it to make assumptions about dependencies. Since the task code is finished, the task will no longer perform by itself any action that may require the enforcement of its dependencies. Only the dependencies needed by its live subtasks need to be preserved. In most cases, these dependencies are the ones associated to an element of the depend clause that also appears in a live subtask. Therefore, the dependencies that do not need to be enforced anymore could be released.

In this sense, when a task with the wait clause exits from its code, the effects over the dependencies are equivalent to replacing the effects of its depend clause by that of the sequence of its unfinished subtasks. Moreover, this is equivalent to merging its inner dependency domain into that of its parent. To enable tasks to release their dependencies in this way programmers can use the weakwait clause. The clause is an alternative to the wait clause that indicates that the dependencies can be released incrementally as soon as the inner instantiated tasks finish.

Notice that this improvement is only possible once the runtime is aware of the end of the code of a task. However, it may also be desirable to trigger this mechanism earlier. For instance, a task may use certain data only at the beginning and then perform other lengthy operations that delay the release of the dependencies associated to that data. The release directive asserts that a task will no longer perform accesses that conflict with the contents of the associated depend clause. The contents of the depend clause must be a subset of that of the task construct that is no longer referenced in the rest of the lifetime of the task and its future subtasks.

2.3.3. Weak dependences

Some of the elements of the depend clause may be needed by the task itself, others may be needed only by its subtasks, and others may be needed by both. The ones that are only needed for the subtasks only serve as a mechanism to link the outer domain of dependencies to the inner one. In this sense, allowing them to defer the execution of the task is unnecessary, since the task does not actually perform any conflicting accesses by itself.

The dependence model in OmpSs-2 has been extended to define the weak counterparts of in, out and inout dependences. Their semantics are analogous to the ones without the weak prefix. However, the weak variants indicate that the task does not perform by itself any action that requires the enforcement of the dependency. Instead those actions can be performed by any of its deeply nested subtasks. Any subtask that may directly perform those actions needs to include the element in its depend clause in the non-weak variant. In turn, if the subtask delegates the action to a subtask, the element must appear in its depend clause using at least the weak variant.

Weak variants do not imply a direct dependency, and thus do not defer the execution of tasks. Their purpose is to serve as linking point between the dependency domains of each nesting level. Until now, out of all the tasks with the same parent, the first one with a given element in its depends clause was assumed to not have any input dependency. However, this assumption is no longer true since the dependency domains are no longer isolated. Instead, if the parent has that same element with a weak dependency type, there may actually be a previous and unfinished task with a depend clause that has a dependency to it. If we calculated dependencies as if all types were non-weak, in such a case, the source of the dependency, if any, would be the source of the non-enforced dependency on its parent over the same element.

This change, combined with the fine-grained release of dependencies, merges the inner dependency domain of a task into that of its parent. Since this happens at every nesting level, the result is equivalent to an execution in which all tasks had been created in a single dependency domain.

2.3.4. Extended lvalues

All dependence clauses allow extended lvalues from those of C/C++. Two different extensions are allowed:

  • Array sections allow to refer to multiple elements of an array (or pointed data) in single expression. There are two forms of array sections:
    • a[lower : upper]. In this case all elements of ‘a’ in the range of lower to upper (both included) are referenced. If no lower is specified it is assumed to be 0. If the array section is applied to an array and upper is omitted then it is assumed to be the last element of that dimension of the array.
    • a[lower; size]. In this case all elements of ‘a’ in the range of lower to lower+(size-1) (both included) are referenced.
  • Shaping expressions allow to recast pointers into array types to recover the size of dimensions that could have been lost across function calls. A shaping expression is one or more [size] expressions before a pointer.

The following example shows examples of these extended expressions:

void sort(int n, int *a) {
  if (n < small) seq_sort(n, a);
  #pragma oss task inout(a[0:(n/2)-1]) // equivalent to inout(a[0;n/2])
  sort(n/2, a);
  #pragma oss task inout(a[n/2:n-1]) // equivalent to inout(a[n/2;n-(n/2)])
  sort(n/2, &a[n/2]);
  #pragma oss task inout(a[0:(n/2)-1], a[n/2:n-1])
  merge (n/2, a, a, &a[n/2]);
  #pragma oss taskwait

Note that these extensions are only for C/C++, since Fortran supports, natively, array sections. Fortran array sections are supported on any dependence clause as well.

2.3.5. Dependences on the taskwait construct

In addition to the dependencies mechanism, there is a way to set synchronization points in an OmpSs-2 application. These points are defined using the taskwait directive. When the control flow reaches a synchronization point, it waits until all previously created sibling tasks complete their execution.

OmpSs-2 also offers synchronization point that can wait until certain tasks are completed. These synchronization points are defined adding any kind of task dependence clause to the taskwait construct.

2.3.6. Multidependences

Multidependences is a powerful feature that allow us to define a dynamic number of any kind of dependences. From a theoretical point of view, a multidependence consists on two different parts: first, an lvalue expression that contains some references to an identifier (the iterator) that doesn’t exist in the program and second, the definition of that identifier and its range of values. Depending on the base language the syntax is a bit different:

  • dependence-type({memory-reference-list, iterator-name = lower; size}) for C/C++.
  • dependence-type([memory-reference-list, iterator-name = lower, size]) for Fortran.

Despite having different syntax for C/C++ and Fortran, the semantics of this feature is the same for the 3 languages: the lvalue expression will be duplicated as many times as values the iterator have and all the references to the iterator will be replaced by its values.

The folllowing code shows how to define a multidependence in C/C++:

void foo(int n, int *v)
// This dependence is equivalent to inout(v[0], v[1], ..., v[n-1])
#pragma oss task inout({v[i], i=0;n})
        int j;
        for (int j = 0; j < n; ++j)

And a similar code in Fortran:

subroutine foo(n, v)
    implicit none
    integer :: n
    integer :: v(n)

    ! This dependence is equivalent to inout(v[1], v[2], ..., v[n])
    !$oss task inout([v(i), i=1, n])
        v = v + 1
    !$omp end task
end subroutine foo


Check multidependences syntax