openmp Getting started with openmp

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OpenMP (Open MultiProcessing) is a parallel programming model based on compiler directives which allows application developers to incrementally add parallelism to their application codes.

OpenMP API specification for parallel programming provides an application programming interface (API) that supports multi-platform shared memory multiprocessing programming in C, C++, and Fortran, on most platforms. It consists of a set of compiler directives, library routines, and environment variables that influence run-time behavior.

Since OpenMP focuses on the parallelism within a node (shared memory multiprocessing) it can be combined with message-passing programming models, such as MPI, to execute on multiple nodes.


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There are many compilers that support different versions of the OpenMP specification. OpenMP maintains a list here with the compiler that support it and the supported version. In general, to compile (and link) an application with OpenMP support you need only to add a compile flag and if you use the OpenMP API you need to include the OpenMP header (omp.h). While the header file has a fixed name, the compile flag depends on the compiler. The following is a non-exhaustive list of compilers and the flag that enables OpenMP.

  • GCC (including gcc, g++ and gfortran) : -fopenmp
  • LLVM: -fopenmp
  • Intel compiler-suite (including icc, icpc and ifort) : -qopenmp (and -fopenmp for compatibility with GCC/LLVM)
  • IBM XL compiler-suite (including xlc, xlC and xlf) : -xlsmp=omp
  • PGI compiler-suite (including pgcc pgc++ pgfortran) : '-mp'

Parallel hello world using OpenMP

#include <omp.h>
#include <stdio.h>

int main (int argc, char *argv[])
   #pragma omp parallel
     printf ("Hello world! I'm thread %d out of %d threads.\n",
             omp_get_thread_num(), omp_get_num_threads());
   return 0;

This code simply creates a team of threads (according to the environment variable OMP_NUM_THREADS - and if not defined will create one per logical core on the system) and each thread will identify itself besides printing the typical Hello world message.

Reduction Example

#include <omp.h>
void main ()
    int i;       
    double ZZ, func(), res=0.0;

    #pragma omp parallel for reduction(+:res) private(ZZ) 
    for (i=0; i< 1000; i++){
        ZZ = func(I);
        res = res + ZZ; 

In the last line: Actually added to a private copy, then combined after the loop. Compiler takes care of the details.

Work Sharing construct - Example of For loop

double  res[MAX];  int i;
#pragma omp parallel 
    #pragma omp for
    for (i=0;i< MAX; i++) {
        res[i] = huge();

The for loop will be executed in parallel. huge() is some method which can take too long to get execute. OpenMP supports a shortcut to write the above code as :

double  res[MAX];  int i;
#pragma omp parallel for
for (i=0;i< MAX; i++) {
    res[i] = huge();

We can also have a schedule clause which effects how loop iterations are mapped to threads. For example:

#pragma omp parallel
#pragma omp for schedule(static)
for(i=0;I<N;i++) {
    a[i] = a[i] + b[i];

Different styles of scheduling are:

schedule(static [,chunk])
Deal-out blocks of iterations of size “chunk” to each thread.
If not specified: allocate as evenly as possible to the available threads

Each thread grabs “chunk” iterations off a queue until all iterations have been handled.

Threads dynamically grab blocks of iterations. The size of the block starts large and shrinks down to size “chunk” as the calculation proceeds.

Schedule and chunk size taken from the OMP_SCHEDULE environment variable.

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