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Primary Publication
Haque IS and Pande VS. Hard Data on Soft Errors: A Large-Scale Assessment of Real-World Error Rates in GPGPU. In Proceedings of 10th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Cluster, Cloud, and Grid Computing (CCGrid 2010), pp 691-696. (2010)  View
Abstract

Graphics processing units (GPUs) are gaining widespread use in high-performance computing because of their performance advantages relative to CPUs. However, the reliability of GPUs is largely unproven. In particular, current GPUs lack error checking and correcting (ECC) in their memory subsystems. The impact of this design has not been previously measured at a large enough scale to quantify soft error events. We present MemtestG80, our software for assessing memory error rates on NVIDIA graphics cards. Furthermore, we present a large-scale assessment of GPU error rate, conducted by running MemtestG80 on over 50,000 hosts on the Folding@home distributed computing network. Our control experiments on consumer-grade and dedicated-GPGPU hardware in a controlled environment found no errors. However, our survey on Folding@home finds that, in their installed environments, two-thirds of tested GPUs exhibit a detectable, pattern-sensitive rate of memory soft errors. We show that these errors persist after controlling for overclocking and environmental proxies for temperature, but depend strongly on board architecture.

Related Publications
Haque IS and Pande VS. Hard Data on Soft Errors: A Large-Scale Assessment of Real-World Error Rates in GPGPU. arXiv:0910.0505v1 [cs.AR]. http://arxiv.org/pdf/0910.0505 (2009)  View
Abstract

Graphics processing units (GPUs) are gaining widespread use in computational chemistry and other scientific simulation contexts because of their huge performance advantages relative to conventional CPUs. However, the reliability of GPUs in error-intolerant applications is largely unproven. In particular, a lack of error checking and correcting (ECC) capability in the memory subsystems of graphics cards has been cited as a hindrance to the acceptance of GPUs as high-performance coprocessors, but the impact of this design has not been previously quantified. In this article we present MemtestG80, our software for assessing memory error rates on NVIDIA G80 and GT200-architecture-based graphics cards. Furthermore, we present the results of a large-scale assessment of GPU error rate, conducted by running MemtestG80 on over 20,000 hosts on the Folding@home distributed computing network. Our control experiments on consumer-grade and dedicated-GPGPU hardware in a controlled environment found no errors. However, our survey over cards on Folding@home finds that, in their installed environments, two-thirds of tested GPUs exhibit a detectable, pattern-sensitive rate of memory soft errors. We demonstrate that these errors persist after controlling for overclocking and environmental proxies for temperature, but depend strongly on board architecture.

Haque IS and Pande VS. Hard Data on Soft Errors: A Large-Scale Assessment of Real-World Error Rates in GPGPU. arXiv:0910.0505v1 [cs.AR]. http://arxiv.org/pdf/0910.0505 (2009)  View
Abstract

Graphics processing units (GPUs) are gaining widespread use in computational chemistry and other scientific simulation contexts because of their huge performance advantages relative to conventional CPUs. However, the reliability of GPUs in error-intolerant applications is largely unproven. In particular, a lack of error checking and correcting (ECC) capability in the memory subsystems of graphics cards has been cited as a hindrance to the acceptance of GPUs as high-performance coprocessors, but the impact of this design has not been previously quantified. In this article we present MemtestG80, our software for assessing memory error rates on NVIDIA G80 and GT200-architecture-based graphics cards. Furthermore, we present the results of a large-scale assessment of GPU error rate, conducted by running MemtestG80 on over 20,000 hosts on the Folding@home distributed computing network. Our control experiments on consumer-grade and dedicated-GPGPU hardware in a controlled environment found no errors. However, our survey over cards on Folding@home finds that, in their installed environments, two-thirds of tested GPUs exhibit a detectable, pattern-sensitive rate of memory soft errors. We demonstrate that these errors persist after controlling for overclocking and environmental proxies for temperature, but depend strongly on board architecture.

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