Loop tiling

Loop tiling

Loop tiling, also known as loop blocking, strip mine and interchange, unroll and jam, or supernode partitioning, is a loop optimization used by compilers to make the execution of certain types of loops more efficient.

Loop tiling partitions a loop's iteration space into smaller chunks or blocks, so as to help ensure data used in a loop stays in the cache until it is reused. The partitioning of loop iteration space leads to partitioning of large array into smaller blocks, thus fitting accessed array elements into cache size, enhancing cache reuse and eliminating cache size requirements.

Original: matrix vector multiplication for (i=0; iAfter loop tiling 2*2: for (i=0; iThe original loop iteration space is N by N. The accessed chunk of array a [i,j] is also N by N. When N is too large and the cache size of the machine is too small, the accessed array elements in one loop iteration (for example, i=1, j=1 to N) may cross cache lines, causing cache misses.

Another example using an algorithm for matrix multiplication:

Original matrix multiplication: DO I = 1, M DO K = 1, M DO J = 1, M Z(J,I) = Z(J,I) + X(K,I) * Y(J,K)

After loop tiling B*B: DO K2 = 1, M, B DO J2 = 1, M, B DO I = 1, M DO K1 = K2, MIN(K2+B-1,M) DO J1 = J2, MIN(J2+B-1,M) Z(J1,I) = Z(J1,I) + X(K1,I) * Y(J1,K1)

It is not always easy to decide what value of tiling size is optimal for one loop because it demands an accurate estimate of accessed array regions in the loop and the cache size of the target machine. The order of loop nests (loop interchange) also plays an important role in achieving better cache performance.

Further reading

# Wolfe, M. More Iteration Space Tiling. Supercomputing'89, pages 655 -- 664, 1989.
# Wolf, M. E. and Lam, M. A Data Locality Optimizing Algorithm. PLDI'91, pages 30 -- 44, 1991.
# Irigoin, F. and Triolet, R. Supernode Partitioning. POPL'88, pages 319 -- 329, 1988.
# Xue, J. Loop Tiling for Parallelism. Kluwer Academic Publishers. 2000.

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