Journal article

Forge: Generating a High Performance DSL Implementation from a Declarative Specification

Domain-specific languages provide a promising path to automatically compile high-level code to parallel, heterogeneous, and distributed hardware. However, in practice high performance DSLs still require considerable software expertise to develop and force users into tool-chains that hinder prototyping and debugging. To address these problems, we present Forge, a new meta DSL for declaratively specifying high performance embedded DSLs. Forge provides DSL authors with high-level abstractions (e.g., data structures, parallel patterns, effects) for specifying their DSL in a way that permits high performance. From this high-level specification, Forge automatically generates both a naive Scala library implementation of the DSL and a high performance version using the Delite DSL framework. Users of a Forge-generated DSL can prototype their application using the library version, and then switch to the Delite version to run on multicore CPUs, GPUs, and clusters without changing the application code. Forge-generated Delite DSLs perform within 2x of hand-optimized C++ and up to 40x better than Spark, an alternative high-level distributed programming environment. Compared to a manually implemented Delite DSL, Forge provides a factor of 3-6x reduction in lines of code and does not sacrifice any performance. Furthermore, Forge specifications can be generated from existing Scala libraries, are easy to maintain, shield DSL developers from changes in the Delite framework, and enable DSLs to be retargeted to other frameworks transparently.


Related material