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This section introduces the concept of inter-communication and describes the portions of MPI that support it.

All point-to-point communication described thus far has involved communication between processes that are members of the same group. In modular and multi-disciplinary applications, different process groups execute distinct modules and processes within different modules communicate with one another in a pipeline or a more general module graph. In these applications, the most natural way for a process to specify a peer process is by the rank of the peer process within the peer group. In applications that contain internal user-level servers, each server may be a process group that provides services to one or more clients, and each client may be a process group that uses the services of one or more servers. It is again most natural to specify the peer process by rank within the peer group in these applications.

An inter-group communication domain is specified by a set of intercommunicators with the pair of disjoint groups (A,B) as their attribute, such that communication domain, inter

This distributed data structure is illustrated in Figure gif, for the case of a pair of groups (A,B), with two (upper box) and three (lower box) processes, respectively.

Figure: Distributed data structure for inter-communication domain.

The communicator structure distinguishes between a local group, namely the group containing the process where the structure reside, and a remote group, namely the other group. process group, local and remotegroup, local and remote The structure is symmetric: for processes in group A, then A is the local group and B is the remote group, whereas for processes in group B, then B is the local group and A is the remote group.

An inter-group communication will involve a process in one group executing a send call and another process, in the other group, executing a matching receive call. As in intra-group communication, the matching process (destination of send or source of receive) is specified using a (communicator, rank) pair. Unlike intra-group communication, the rank is relative to the second, remote group. Thus, in the communication domain illustrated in Figure gif, process 1 in group A sends a message to process 2 in group B with a call MPI_SEND(..., 2, tag, comm); process 2 in group B receives this message with a call MPI_RECV(..., 1, tag, comm). Conversely, process 2 in group B sends a message to process 1 in group A with a call to MPI_SEND(..., 1, tag, comm), and the message is received by a call to MPI_RECV(..., 2, tag, comm); a remote process is identified in the same way for the purposes of sending or receiving. All point-to-point communication functions can be used with intercommunicators for inter-group communication.

Here is a summary of the properties of inter-group communication and intercommunicators: intercommunication, summary

o The syntax of point-to-point communication is the same for
  both inter-and intra-communication. The same communicator can
  be used for send and for receive operations.
o A target process is addressed by its rank in the remote group,
  both for sends and for receives.
o Communications using and intercommunicator are guranteed not to
  conflict with any communications that use a different communicator.
o An intercommunicator cannot be used for collective communication.
o A communicator will provide either intra-or inter-communication,
  never both.

The routine MPI_COMM_TEST_INTER may be used to determine if a communicator is an inter- or intracommunicator. Intercommunicators can be used as arguments to some of the other communicator access routines. Intercommunicators cannot be used as input to some of the constructor routines for intracommunicators (for instance, MPI_COMM_CREATE).

It is often convenient to generate an inter-group communication domain by joining together two intra-group communication domains, i.e., building the pair of communicating groups from the individual groups. This requires that there exists one process in each group that can communicate with each other through a communication domain that serves as a bridge between the two groups. For example, suppose that comm1 has 3 processes and comm2 has 4 processes (see Figure gif). In terms of the MPI_COMM_WORLD, the processes in comm1 are 0, 1 and 2 and in comm2 are 3, 4, 5 and 6. Let local process 0 in each intracommunicator form the bridge. They can communicate via MPI_COMM_WORLD where process 0 in comm1 has rank 0 and process 0 in comm2 has rank 3. Once the intercommunicator is formed, the original group for each intracommunicator is the local group in the intercommunicator and the group from the other intracommunicator becomes the remote group. For communication with this intercommunicator, the rank in the remote group is used. For example, if a process in comm1 wants to send to process 2 of comm2 (MPI_COMM_WORLD rank 5) then it uses 2 as the rank in the send.

Figure: Example of two intracommunicators merging to become one intercommunicator.

Intercommunicators are created in this fashion by the call MPI_INTERCOMM_CREATE. The two joined groups are required to be disjoint. The converse function of building an intracommunicator from an intercommunicator is provided by the call MPI_INTERCOMM_MERGE. This call generates a communication domain with a group which is the union of the two groups of the inter-group communication domain. Both calls are blocking. Both will generally require collective communication within each of the involved groups, as well as communication across the groups.

next up previous contents
Next: Intercommunicator Accessors Up: Intercommunication Previous: Intercommunication

Jack Dongarra
Fri Sep 1 06:16:55 EDT 1995