A Metric for Performance Portability

Simon John Pennycook, Jason Sewall, Victor Lee

The term "performance portability" has been informally used in computing to refer to a variety of notions which generally include: 1) the ability to run one application across multiple hardware platforms; and 2) achieving some notional level of performance on these platforms. However, there has been a noticeable lack of consensus on the precise meaning of the term, and authors' conclusions regarding their success (or failure) to achieve performance portability have thus been subjective. Comparing one approach to performance portability with another has generally been marked with vague claims and verbose, qualitative explanation of the comparison. This paper presents a concise definition for performance portability, along with a simple metric that accurately captures the performance and portability of an application across different platforms. The utility of this metric is then demonstrated with a retroactive application to previous work.