Intel® FPGA SDK for OpenCL™ Standard Edition: Best Practices Guide

ID 683176
Date 9/24/2018
Document Table of Contents Low Occupancy Percentage

A low occupancy percentage implies that a work-item is accessing the load and store operations or the channel infrequently. This behavior is expected for load and store operations or channels that are in non-critical loops. However, if the memory or channel instruction is in critical portions of the kernel code and the occupancy or activity percentage is low, it implies that a performance bottleneck exists because work-items or loop iterations are not being issued in the hardware.

Consider the following code example:

__kernel void proc (__global int * a, ...) {
  for (int i = 0; i < N; i++) {
    for (int j = 0; j < 1000; j++) {
      write_channel_intel (c0, data0);
    for (int k = 0; k < 3; k++) {
      write_channel_intel (c1, data1);

Assuming all the loops are pipelined, the first inner loop with a trip count of 1000 is the critical loop. The second inner loop with a trip count of three will be executed infrequently. As a result, you can expect that the occupancy and activity percentages for channel c0 are high and for channel c1 are low.

Also, occupancy percentage might be low if you define a small work-group size, the kernel might not receive sufficient work-items. This is problematic because the pipeline is empty generally for the duration of kernel execution, which leads to poor performance.