My 5 Favorite New Intel® Software Development Product Features of 2011

It's been a big year for us in the Intel Developer Products Division. We released Intel® Cluster Studio XE and Intel® Parallel Studio XE Service Pack 1. We continued to plan and design our products to provide support for the compute continuum. And of course we worked to grow our community of developers. Throughout the year there have been several new features and developments in some of my favorite products - below I list my personal top 5 and tell you why. This list is of course heavily biased by my particular area of expertise (performance) and is by no means a complete list of all the new products or features that went into Intel® Software Development products in 2011! So, without further ado, my favorites:

5. Intel® Cilk Plus open source port to GCC - Intel® Cilk Plus was announced in 2010, and an open source specification has been out since late 2010 as well. However this year we began, along with the open source community, to port Cilk Plus to GCC. Some of the first items ported were the parallelism keywords, which is significant to me because it makes our Cilk Plus parallelism model available to a greater audience.

4. Intel® VTune™ Amplifier XE and Intel® Inspector XE MPI Support - In the new Cluster Studio XE product, VTune Amplifier XE and Inspector XE are now MPI-enabled. This is important because we are beginning to see more hybrid programming in the HPC and cluster world - which means the applications use a combination of MPI and another threading model (such as OpenMP, Cilk Plus, or Intel® Threading Building Blocks). We have an existing product, Intel® Trace Analyzer and Collector, that analyzes MPI efficiency for a cluster app, but analyzing performance of an individual process running on an MPI rank was more difficult. Now we make it easier to use VTune Amplifier XE or Inspector XE to analyze the threading model used within a rank, which helps us support more cluster customers.

3. Intel® Threading Building Blocks Flow Graph - I was introduced to flow graph this year, when I worked with my colleague Victoria Gromova to create some TBB labs for Intel Developer Forum. Victoria wanted to highlight flow graph as one of the new features of TBB 4.0. Flow graph is a new construct that supports many more types of control algorithms, like dependency graphs, event-based models or reactive-based flows. In short, it opens up TBB to more customers while maintaining or improving the TBB performance we have come to expect.

2. VTune Amplifier XE attach to running process on Linux* - This is a great example of our development team responding to customer feedback. Being able to analyze a running process for a defined period of time (instead of launching it) has been requested by many of our clients. We first got this implemented on Windows*, then this September provided the feature for Linux* in Intel® Parallel Studio XE Service Pack 1. I have already been visiting some users who requested this and it is great to be able to share that the feature they have been asking for is here!

1. VTune Amplifier XE interface for Intel® Microarchitecture Codename Sandy Bridge - For readers of my blog this one should not be a surprise! I have created quite a bit of training material on these new Sandy Bridge features. We now provide an analysis type for Sandy Bridge that helps users easily identify the most common software performance issues at the microarchitectural level, and it includes pre-coded metrics, thresholds, and issue highlighting for usability. This is my favorite new feature because, even though I am not a developer, I got to help a little with making this interface by helping define some performance metrics and thresholds and validating them on workloads. It is very cool to see my contributions in the product.

There you have it! I hope you have a chance to try out some of our new product features now or in the coming year. Let us know your favorites, or your requests.