openmpi-* subports, and publishing of binaries

Eric Borisch eborisch at
Wed Feb 3 09:29:49 UTC 2021

This seems off.

Hwloc’s own page talks about the availability of pre-compiled packages, and
its demos focus on determining what threads to bind to (on OSes where
explicit binding is possible; last I checked it wasn’t on OSX) if you want
to maximize or minimize shared resources. (You may want shared L2 cache
between threads for cooperative tasks, or to put threads on cores with
different memory busses - and bind memory allocs, too - if your code is
burning through large, and separable, chunks of memory at max bandwidth.)

It is designed to be used at runtime to provide a uniform (across OSes) way
to interrogate the running system’s topology.

This is separate from flags like -march which lock in instruction sets
which will be used  — and can create decidedly non-portable binaries.

Just my 2c,
  - Eric

On Wed, Feb 3, 2021 at 12:48 AM Ryan Schmidt <ryandesign at>

> On Feb 1, 2021, at 09:49, Christopher Nielsen wrote:
> > Given how long the various openmpi-* subports take to build, it would be
> beneficial to publish binaries for our users.
> >
> > This is currently disabled in the Portfile, with a brief mention that
> it’s due to ‘hwloc’... and the tight coupling between the compiled
> binaries, and the hardware it’s compiled on.
> >
> > Digging through all information resources available - including git
> history, old trac tickets, mailing list archives, etc - I couldn’t find
> much discussion surrounding this.
> >
> > So, assuming this isn’t a simple licensing issue (?), does anyone have
> an answer?
> >
> > Of note, my goal is to eliminate any technical barriers (if possible),
> by engaging the OpenMPI developers. But before doing that, any relevant
> background would be helpful.
> According to the comment in the portfile, "openmpi depends on hwloc and
> that would be different for a user's machine".
> The hwloc project is here:
> According to "port info hwloc", "The Portable Hardware Locality (hwloc)
> software package provides a portable abstraction (across OS, versions,
> architectures, ...) of the hierarchical topology of modern architectures,
> including NUMA memory nodes, sockets, shared caches, cores and simultaneous
> multithreading."
> I'm not familiar with all of that but I assume the situation is that
> openmpi, via hwloc, will determine the capabilities available on the build
> machine's processor and try to use those capabilities to the fullest at
> runtime. If something built on our build machines with their Intel Xeon
> processors were distributed to a user with let's say an Intel Core 2 Duo
> processor, it is possible that the processor features that openmpi/hwloc
> determined were available on the Xeon are not available on the Core 2 Duo,
> and that the program would crash or work incorrectly in some way.
> If what I've described is accurate, then to accomplish what you want, you
> would need to modify the openmpi port so that it does not do that: does not
> use hwloc, does not attempt to discover specific processor features. Make
> it build the same on any Intel processor. Then we could distribute the
> binary.
> A variant could be added that reintroduces the processor-specific
> optimizations. We have standardized on the variant name "native" for this
> purpose. Users who wish to have the very fastest software, at the expense
> of portability, can enable this variant either on a port by port basis or
> in their variants.conf file.
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