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Parallelization of Continuous Media Applications: the 4D Beating Heart Slice Server

J. Tarraga, V. Messerli, O. Figueiredo, B. Gennart, R.D. Hersch

Proc. ACM Multimedia, Orlando, USA, 1999, 431-441

Parallel servers for I/O and compute intensive continuous media applications are difficult to develop. A server application comprises many threads located in different address spaces as well as files striped over multiple disks located on different computers. The present contribution describes the construction of a continuous media server, the 4D beating heart slice server, based on a computer-aided parallelization tool (CAP) and on a library of parallel file system components enabling the combination of pipelined parallel disk access and processing operations. Thanks to CAP, the presented archictecture is concisely described as a set of threads, operations located within the threads and flow of data and parameters (tokens) between operations. Continuous media applications are supported by allowing tokens to be suspended during a period of time specified by a user-defined function. Our target application, the 4D beating heart server supports the extraction of freely oriented slices from a 4D beating heart volume (one 3D volume per time sample). This server application requires both a high I/O throughput for accessing from disks the set of 4D sub-volumes (extents) intersecting the desired slices and a large amount of processing power to extract these slices and to resample them into the display grid. With a server configuration of 3 PCs and 24 disks, up to 7.3 slices can be delivered per second, i.e. 43 MB/s are continuously read from disks and 4.1 MB/s of slice parts are extracted, transfered to the client, merged, buffered and displayed. This performance is close to the maximal performance deliverable by the underlying hardware. The observed single stream server delay jitter varies between 0.6s (52% of maximal display rate) and 1.4s (92% of the maximal display rate). For the same resource utilization, the jitter is proportional to the number of streams that are accessed synchronously. The presented 4D beating heart application suggests that pow erful continuous media server applications can be built on top of a set of simple PCs connected to SCSI disks.

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