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Re: Controlling # Processors Used by MathKernel?

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  • Subject: [mg125068] Re: Controlling # Processors Used by MathKernel?
  • From: "Oleksandr Rasputinov" <oleksandr_rasputinov at>
  • Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2012 02:49:51 -0500 (EST)
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  • References: <jhldft$orv$>

On Fri, 17 Feb 2012 11:25:49 -0000, Mark Suhovecky <suhovecky at>  

> We're running Mathematica 8.0.1 on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.7. This
> is an HPC cluster environment, so most folks run Mathematica scripts
> in batch using the format  math -script example.m
> My usersr are not doing explicit Parallel programming yet, but I've
> noticed that some mathematica scripts, when run, take up all all of
> the cores available on a machine, i.e. - a top command will show
> MathKernal using 800%
> on an 8 core machine.
> Is it possible to tell Mathematica how many cores it's restricted to
> on a machine, rather than having it grab them all?
> I've tried adding
> Unprotect[$ProcessorCount];ProcessorCount=2;
> to my initfile- no difference. I've also tried adding that to the
> start of the script, to no effect.
> If anyone's been able to do this, I'd appreciate knowing how.
> Thanks,
> Mark

The reason for this behaviour is threading within the Intel Math Kernel  
Library used by Mathematica. As a result one will see it most readily in  
codes that rely on numerical linear algebra or FFT routines. The number of  
threads can be adjusted using:

SetSystemOptions["MKLThreads" -> 1];

or (I have not tested this, but presumably it works) with the environment  

However, Mathematica does detect the number of available processor cores  
when it starts and will use this information to set the number of MKL  
threads automatically. If you're seeing overallocation of cores in your  
environment, it's likely that your queueing system isn't set up correctly  
and is starting processes with erroneous affinity masks (or not setting  
any affinity mask at all).


O. R.

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