An Investigation into the Performance and Portability of SYCL Compiler Implementations

Wageesha R. Shilpage, Steven A. Wright*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In June 2022, Frontier became the first Supercomputer to “officially” break the ExaFLOP/s barrier on LINPACK, achieving a peak performance of 1.1×10^18 floating-point operations per second using AMD Instinct accelerators. Developing high performance applications for such platforms typically requires the adoption of vendor-specific programming models, which in turn may limit portability. SYCL is a high-level, single-source language based on C++17, developed by the Khronos group to overcome the shortcomings of those vendor-specific HPC programming models. In this paper we present an initial study into the SYCL parallel programming model and its implementing compilers, to understand its performance and portability, and how this compares to other parallel programming models. We use three major SYCL implementations for our evaluation – Open SYCL (previously hipSYCL), DPC++, and ComputeCpp – on a range of CPU and GPU hardware from Intel, AMD, Fujitsu, Marvell, and NVIDIA. Our results show that for a simple finite difference mini-application, SYCL can offer competitive performance to native approaches, while for a more complex finite-element mini-application, significant performance degradation is observed. Our findings suggest that development work is required at the compiler- and application-level to ensure SYCL is competitive with alternative approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHigh Performance Computing - ISC High Performance 2023 International Workshops, Revised Selected Papers
EditorsAmanda Bienz, Michèle Weiland, Marc Baboulin, Carola Kruse
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783031408434
ISBN (Print)9783031408427
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2023
Event38th International Conference on High Performance Computing, ISC High Performance 2023 - Hamburg, Germany
Duration: 21 May 202325 May 2023

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume13999 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference38th International Conference on High Performance Computing, ISC High Performance 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Many of the results in this paper were gathered on the Isambard UK National Tier-2 HPC Service ( operated by GW4 and the UK Met Office, and funded by EPSRC (EP/P020224/1). Access to the Intel HD Graphics P630 GPU was provided by Intel through the Intel Developer Cloud. The ExCALIBUR programme ( is supported by the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund. The programme is co-delivered by the Met Office and EPSRC in partnership with the Public Sector Research Establishment, the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and UKRI research councils, including NERC, MRC and STFC.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • High-Performance Computing
  • Performance Portability
  • SYCL

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