Wide-area implementation of the Message Passing Interface

Ian Foster, Jonathan Geisler, William Gropp, Nicholas Karonis, Ewing Lusk, George Thiruvathukal, Steven Tuecke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Message Passing Interface (MPI) can be used as a portable, high-performance programming model for wide-area computing systems. The wide-area environment introduces challenging problems for the MPI implementor, due to the heterogeneity of both the underlying physical infrastructure and the software environment at different sites. In this article, we describe an MPI implementation that incorporates solutions to these problems. This implementation has been constructed by extending the Argonne MPICH implementation of MPI to use communication services provided by the Nexus communication library and authentication, resource allocation, process creation/management, and information services provided by the I-Soft system (initially) and the Globus metacomputing toolkit (work in progress). Nexus provides multimethod communication mechanisms that allow multiple communication methods to be used in a single computation with a uniform interface; I-Soft and Globus provided standard authentication, resource management, and process management mechanisms. We describe how these various mechanisms are supported in the Nexus implementation of MPI and present performance results for this implementation on multicomputers and networked systems. We also discuss how more advanced services provided by the Globus metacomputing toolkit are being used to construct a second-generation wide-area MPI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1735-1749
Number of pages15
JournalParallel Computing
Issue number12-13
StatePublished - Nov 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Message Passing Interface
  • Message passing model
  • Metacomputing
  • Multi-method communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Artificial Intelligence


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