Today’s high-performance computing (HPC) applications are producing vast volumes of data, which are challenging to store and transfer efficiently during the execution, such that data compression is becoming a critical technique to mitigate the storage burden and data movement cost. Huffman coding is arguably the most efficient Entropy coding algorithm in information theory, such that it could be found as a fundamental step in many modern compression algorithms such as DEFLATE. On the other hand, today’s HPC applications are more and more relying on the accelerators such as GPU on supercomputers, while Huffman encoding suffers from low throughput on GPUs, resulting in a significant bottleneck in the entire data processing. In this paper, we propose and implement an efficient Huffman encoding approach based on modern GPU architectures, which addresses two key challenges: (1) how to parallelize the entire Huffman encoding algorithm, including codebook construction, and (2) how to fully utilize the high memory-bandwidth feature of modern GPU architectures. The detailed contribution is fourfold. (1) We develop an efficient parallel codebook construction on GPUs that scales effectively with the number of input symbols. (2) We propose a novel reduction based encoding scheme that can efficiently merge the codewords on GPUs. (3) We optimize the overall GPU performance by leveraging the state-of-the-art CUDA APIs such as Cooperative Groups. (4) We evaluate our Huffman encoder thoroughly using six real-world application datasets on two advanced GPUs and compare with our implemented multithreaded Huffman encoder. Experiments show that our solution can improve the encoding throughput by up to 5.0× and 6.8× on NVIDIA RTX 5000 and V100, respectively, over the state-of-the- art GPU Huffman encoder, and by up to 3.3× over the multithread encoder on two 28-core Xeon Platinum 8280 CPUs.

Meeting Name

35th IEEE International Parallel and Distributed Symposium (2021: May 17-21, Portland, OR)


Computer Science

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





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Publication Date

21 May 2021