Software made at the Max Planck Institute Magdeburg

FlexiBLAS is the default BLAS implementation in Fedora Linux.

December 14, 2020

In October 2020, the Fedora project released the 33rd version of their Linux distribution. Beside the usual changes and updates, the FlexiBLAS library developed by the Computational Methods in Systems and Control Theory group at the Max Planck Institute Magdeburg is now the default library for everything requiring the functionality of BLAS and LAPACK.

Many scientific fields utilise computational simulation for digitally performing experiments in a series of tests, which would be otherwise too expensive to practically execute. So-called supercomputers calculate distinct, complex scenarios and are used in the natural sciences, in climate research and in medicine.

These calculations are mostly based on linear algebra operations like matrix multiplication or vector addition. The BLAS (Basic Linear Algebra Subprograms) library is the framework for these operations. Individual implementations of BLAS offer different advantages but switching the library in applications takes a lot of time and is prone to errors. Though exchanging implementations is necessary for troubleshooting and performance analysis.

Martin Koehler at work in the server room of the Linux Computing cluster at the MPI Magdeburg.

While developing algorithms in numeric linear algebra, the Computational Methods in Systems and Control Theory group at the Max Planck Institute Magdeburg found a solution. Martin Köhler came up with an idea in 2013: “The FlexiBLAS library provides a mechanism to quickly switch between different BLAS implementations without the usually time-consuming and error-prone procedure.” So FlexiBLAS does not compute by itself, rather serves “as a quick and flexible mediator between users and the implementation they want to use”.

In October 2020 the Fedora Project chose FlexiBLAS as the default library for the latest version of their Linux distribution, which is used by a large amount of Linux users worldwide. Other scientific facilities may profit from FlexiBLAS and the improvements working with BLAS libraries.

Future updates will add more tools with which the user can analyse how the BLAS library is used. Furthermore, Martin Köhler would like to “offer the possibility to automatically include graphic cards while computing” since they are present in most modern computers and can accelerate the calculations.


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