9.4. Examples

Listed here are the subset of command line options that will be used in the process mapping/ranking/binding examples below.

9.4.1. Specifying Host Nodes

Use one of the following options to specify which hosts (nodes) within the PRRTE DVM environment to run on.

--host <host1,host2,...,hostN>

# or

--host <host1:X,host2:Y,...,hostN:Z>
  • List of hosts on which to invoke processes. After each hostname a colon (:) followed by a positive integer can be used to specify the number of slots on that host (:X, :Y, and :Z). The default is 1.

--hostfile <hostfile>
  • Provide a hostfile to use.

9.4.2. Process Mapping / Ranking / Binding Options

  • -c #, -n #, --n #, --np <#>: Run this many copies of the program on the given nodes. This option indicates that the specified file is an executable program and not an application context. If no value is provided for the number of copies to execute (i.e., neither the -np nor its synonyms are provided on the command line), prun will automatically execute a copy of the program on each process slot (see below for description of a “process slot”). This feature, however, can only be used in the SPMD model and will return an error (without beginning execution of the application) otherwise.


    These options specify the number of processes to launch. None of the options imply a particular binding policy — e.g., requesting N processes for each package does not imply that the processes will be bound to the package.

  • --map-by <object>: Map to the specified object. Supported objects include:

    • slot

    • hwthread

    • core (default)

    • l1cache

    • l2cache

    • l3cache

    • numa

    • package

    • node

    • seq

    • ppr

    • rankfile

    • pe-list

    Any object can include qualifiers by adding a colon (:) and any colon-delimited combination of one or more of the following to the --map-by options:

    • PE=n bind n processing elements to each process (can not be used in combination with rankfile or pe-list directives)


      JMS Several of the options below refer to pe-list. Is this option supposed to be PE-LIST=n, not PE=n?

    • SPAN load balance the processes across the allocation (cannot be used in combination with slot, node, seq, ppr, rankfile, or pe-list directives)

    • OVERSUBSCRIBE allow more processes on a node than processing elements


    • NOLOCAL do not launch processes on the same node as prun

    • HWTCPUS use hardware threads as CPU slots

    • CORECPUS use cores as CPU slots (default)

    • INHERIT indicates that a child job (i.e., one spawned from within an application) shall inherit the placement policies of the parent job that spawned it.


    • FILE=<path> (path to file containing sequential or rankfile entries).

    • ORDERED only applies to the PE-LIST option to indicate that procs are to be bound to each of the specified CPUs in the order in which they are assigned (i.e., the first proc on a node shall be bound to the first CPU in the list, the second proc shall be bound to the second CPU, etc.)

    ppr policy example: --map-by ppr:N:<object> will launch N times the number of objects of the specified type on each node.


    Directives and qualifiers are case-insensitive and can be shortened to the minimum number of characters to uniquely identify them. Thus, L1CACHE can be given as l1cache or simply as L1.

  • --rank-by <object>: This assigns ranks in round-robin fashion according to the specified object. The default follows the mapping pattern. Supported rank-by objects include:

    • slot

    • node

    • fill

    • span

    There are no qualifiers for the --rank-by directive.

  • --bind-to <object>: This binds processes to the specified object. See defaults in Quick Summary. Supported bind-to objects include:

    • none

    • hwthread

    • core

    • l1cache

    • l2cache

    • l3cache

    • numa

    • package

    Any object can include qualifiers by adding a colon (:) and any colon-delimited combination of one or more of the following to the --bind-to options:

    • overload-allowed allows for binding more than one process in relation to a CPU

    • if-supported if binding to that object is supported on this system.

9.4.3. Specifying Host Nodes

Host nodes can be identified on the command line with the --host option or in a hostfile.

For example, assuming no other resource manager or scheduler is involved:

prun --host aa,aa,bb ./a.out

This launches two processes on node aa and one on bb.

prun --host aa ./a.out

This launches one process on node aa.

prun --host aa:5 ./a.out

This launches five processes on node aa.

Or, consider the hostfile:

$ cat myhostfile
aa slots=2
bb slots=2
cc slots=2

Here, we list both the host names (aa, bb, and cc) but also how many “slots” there are for each. Slots indicate how many processes can potentially execute on a node. For best performance, the number of slots may be chosen to be the number of cores on the node or the number of processor sockets.

If the hostfile does not provide slots information, the PRRTE DVM will attempt to discover the number of cores (or hwthreads, if the :HWTCPUS qualifier to the --map-by option is set) and set the number of slots to that value.

Examples using the hostfile above with and without the --host option:

prun --hostfile myhostfile ./a.out

This will launch two processes on each of the three nodes.

prun --hostfile myhostfile --host aa ./a.out

This will launch two processes, both on node aa.

prun --hostfile myhostfile --host dd ./a.out

This will find no hosts to run on and abort with an error. That is, the specified host dd is not in the specified hostfile.

When running under resource managers (e.g., SLURM, Torque, etc.), PRTE will obtain both the hostnames and the number of slots directly from the resource manger. The behavior of --host in that environment will behave the same as if a hostfile was provided (since it is provided by the resource manager).

9.4.4. Specifying Number of Processes

As we have just seen, the number of processes to run can be set using the hostfile. Other mechanisms exist.

The number of processes launched can be specified as a multiple of the number of nodes or processor sockets available. Consider the hostfile below for the examples that follow.

$ cat myhostfile

For example:

prun --hostfile myhostfile --map-by ppr:2:package ./a.out

This launches processes 0-3 on node aa and process 4-7 on node bb, where aa and bb are both dual-package nodes. The --map-by ppr:2:package option also turns on the --bind-to package option, which is discussed in a later section.

prun --hostfile myhostfile --map-by ppr:2:node ./a.out

This launches processes 0-1 on node aa and processes 2-3 on node bb.

prun --hostfile myhostfile --map-by ppr:1:node ./a.out

This launches one process per host node.

Another alternative is to specify the number of processes with the --np option. Consider now the hostfile:

$ cat myhostfile
aa slots=4
bb slots=4
cc slots=4

With this hostfile:

prun --hostfile myhostfile --np 6 ./a.out

This will launch processes 0-3 on node aa and processes 4-5 on node bb. The remaining slots in the hostfile will not be used since the -np option indicated that only 6 processes should be launched.

9.4.5. Mapping Processes to Nodes Using Policies

The examples above illustrate the default mapping of process processes to nodes. This mapping can also be controlled with various prun / prterun options that describe mapping policies.

$ cat myhostfile
aa slots=4
bb slots=4
cc slots=4

Consider the hostfile above, with --np 6:


Ranks on aa

Ranks on bb

Ranks on cc


0 1 2 3

4 5

prun --map-by node

0 3

1 4

2 5

prun --map-by node:NOLOCAL

0 2 4

1 3 5

The --map-by node option will load balance the processes across the available nodes, numbering each process by node in a round-robin fashion.

The :NOLOCAL qualifier to --map-by prevents any processes from being mapped onto the local host (in this case node aa). While prun typically consumes few system resources, the :NOLOCAL qualifier can be helpful for launching very large jobs where prun may actually need to use noticeable amounts of memory and/or processing time.

Just as --np can specify fewer processes than there are slots, it can also oversubscribe the slots. For example, with the same hostfile:

prun --hostfile myhostfile --np 14 ./a.out

This will produce an error since the default :NOOVERSUBSCRIBE qualifier to --map-by prevents oversubscription.

To oversubscribe the nodes you can use the :OVERSUBSCRIBE qualifier to --map-by:

prun --hostfile myhostfile --np 14 --map-by :OVERSUBSCRIBE ./a.out

This will launch processes 0-5 on node aa, 6-9 on bb, and 10-13 on cc.

Limits to oversubscription can also be specified in the hostfile itself with the max_slots field:

$ cat myhostfile
aa slots=4 max_slots=4
bb         max_slots=8
cc slots=4

The max_slots field specifies such a limit. When it does, the slots value defaults to the limit. Now:

prun --hostfile myhostfile --np 14 --map-by :OVERSUBSCRIBE ./a.out

This causes the first 12 processes to be launched as before, but the remaining two processes will be forced onto node cc. The other two nodes are protected by the hostfile against oversubscription by this job.

Using the :NOOVERSUBSCRIBE qualifier to --map-by option can be helpful since the PRTE DVM currently does not get max_slots values from the resource manager.

Of course, --np can also be used with the --host option. For example,

prun --host aa,bb --np 8 ./a.out

This will produce an error since the default :NOOVERSUBSCRIBE qualifier to --map-by prevents oversubscription.

prun --host aa,bb --np 8 --map-by :OVERSUBSCRIBE ./a.out

This launches 8 processes. Since only two hosts are specified, after the first two processes are mapped, one to aa and one to bb, the remaining processes oversubscribe the specified hosts evenly.

prun --host aa:2,bb:6 --np 8 ./a.out

This launches 8 processes. Processes 0-1 on node aa since it has 2 slots and processes 2-7 on node bb since it has 6 slots.

And here is a MIMD example:

prun --host aa --np 1 hostname : --host bb,cc --np 2 uptime

This will launch process 0 running hostname on node aa and processes 1 and 2 each running uptime on nodes bb and cc, respectively.