Space-time memory: A parallel programming abstraction for interactive multimedia applications

Umakishore Ramachandran, Rishiyur S. Nikhil, Nissim Harel, James M. Rehg, Kathleen Knobe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Realistic interactive multimedia involving vision, animation, and multimedia collaboration is likely to become an important aspect of future computer applications. The scalable parallelism inherent in such applications coupled with their computational demands make them ideal candidates for SMPs and clusters of SMPs. These applications have novel requirements that offer new kinds of challenges for parallel system design. We have designed a programming system called Stampede that offers many functionalities needed to simplify devel-opment of such applications (such as high-level data sharing abstractions, dynamic cluster-wide threads, and multiple address spaces). We have built Stampede and it runs on clusters of SMPs. To date we have implemented two applications on Stampede, one of which is discussed herein. In this paper we describe a part of Stampede called Space-Time Memory (STM). It is a novel data sharing abstraction that enables interactive multimedia applications to manage a collection of time-sequenced data items simply, efficiently, and transparently across a cluster. STM relieves the application programmer from low level synchronization and data communication by providing a high level interface that subsumes buffer management, inter-thread synchronization, and location transparency for data produced and accessed anywhere in the cluster. STM also automatically handles garbage collection of data items that will no longer be accessed by any of the application threads. We discuss ease of use issues for developing applications using STM, and present preliminary performance results to show that STM's overhead is low.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-192
Number of pages10
JournalSIGPLAN Notices (ACM Special Interest Group on Programming Languages)
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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