Optimized Merge Sort on Modern Commodity Multi-core CPUs

Abstract: Sorting is a kind of widely used basic algorithms. As the high performance computing devices are increasingly common, more and more modern commodity machines have the capability of parallel concurrent computing. A new implementation of sorting algorithms is proposed to harness the power of newer SIMD operations and multi-core computing provided by modern CPUs. The algorithm is hybrid byoptimized bitonic sorting network and multi-way merge. New SIMD instructions provided by modern CPUs are used in the bitonic network implementation, which adopted a different method to arrange data so that the number of SIMD operations is reduced. Balanced binary trees are used in multi-way merge, which is also different with former implementations. Efforts are also paid on minimizing data moving in memory since merge sort is a kind of memory-bound application. The performance evaluation shows that the proposed algorithm is twice as fast as the sort function in C++ standard library when only single thread is used. It also outperforms radix sort implemented in Boost library.
Keywords: merge sort, bitonic network, SIMD, AVX
Author: Ming Xu, Xianbin Xu, MengJia Yin, Fang Zheng
Journal Code: jptkomputergg160215

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