Robert Soulé, Michael I. Gordon, Saman Amarasinghe, Robert Grimm, and Martin Hirzel

Hitting the Sweet Spot for Streaming Languages: Dynamic Expressivity with Static Optimization

Abstract:

Developers increasingly use stream processing languages to write applications that process large volumes of data with high throughput. Unfortunately, when choosing which stream processing language to use, they face a difficult choice. On the one hand, dynamically scheduled languages allow developers to write a wider range of applications, but cannot take advantage of many crucial optimizations. On the other hand, statically scheduled languages are extremely performant, but cannot express many important streaming applications.

This paper presents the design of a hybrid scheduler for stream processing languages. The compiler partitions the streaming application into coarse-grained subgraphs separated by dynamic rate boundaries. It then applies static optimizations to those subgraphs. We have implemented this scheduler as an extension to the StreamIt compiler, and evaluated its performance against three scheduling techniques used by dynamic systems: OS thread, demand, and no-op. Our scheduler not only allows the previously static version of StreamIt to run dynamic rate applications, but it outperforms the three dynamic alternatives. This demonstrates that our scheduler strikes the right balance between expressivity and performance for stream processing languages.