What are toolchains?#
A toolchain is a collection of tools to build (HPC) software consistently. It consists of
compilers for C/C++ and Fortran,
a communications library (MPI), and
mathematical libraries (linear algebra, FFT).
Toolchains at the VSC are versioned, and refreshed twice a year. All
software available on the cluster is rebuild when a new version of a
toolchain is defined to ensure consistency. Version numbers consist of
the year of their definition, followed by either
2014a. Note that the software components are not necessarily the
most recent releases, rather they are selected for stability and
Available toolchains at the VSC#
Two toolchain flavors are standard across the VSC on all machines that can support them:
Intel toolchain based on Intel software components,
FOSS toolchain based on free and open source software.
It may be of interest to note that the Intel C/C++ compilers are more strict with respect to the standards than the GCC C/C++ compilers, while for Fortran, the GCC Fortran compiler tracks the standard more closely, while Intel’s Fortran allows for many extensions added during Fortran’s long history. When developing code, one should always build with both compiler suites, and eliminate all warnings.
On average, the Intel compiler suite produces executables that are 5 to 10 % faster than those generated using the GCC compiler suite. However, for individual applications the differences may be more significant with sometimes significantly faster code produced by the Intel compilers while on other applications the GNU compiler may produce much faster code.
Additional toolchains may be defined on specialised hardware to extract the maximum performance from that hardware.
For detailed documentation on each of these toolchains, we refer to the pages linked above in this document.