An Update on Building and Using BOOST.MPI on Windows HPC Server 2008 R2

My 2008 blog post on Building and Using BOOST.MPI on Windows HPC Server 2008 still generates quite some traffic. Since some things have changed since then, I thought it could help those visitors to provide an updated howto. Again, this post puts the focus on building boost.mpi with various versions of MS-MPI, and does not cover all aspects of building boost on Windows (go to Getting Started on Windows for that).

The problem that still remains is, that the MPI auto-configuration only looks for MS-MPI v1, which came with the Compute Cluster Pack and was typically installed to the directory C:\Program Files\Microsoft Compute Cluster Pack. MS-MPI v2, that comes with the Microsoft HPC Pack 2008 [R2], is typically installed to the directory C:\Program Files\Microsoft HPC Pack 2008 [R2] SDK, but the auto-configuration does not examine these directories. In the old post I explained where to change the path the auto-configurator is looking at. Of course, this is not what one expects from an “auto”-configuration tool. Extending the mpi.jam file to search for all possible standard directories where MS-MPI might be installed in turned out to be pretty simple. You can download my modified mpi.jam for boost 1.46.1 supporting MS-MPI v1 and v2 and replace the mpi.jam file that comes with the boost package. As a summary, below are the basic steps to build boost with boost.mpi on Windows (HPC) Server 2008 using Visual Studio and MS-MPI.

  1. Download boost 1.46.1 (82 MB), which is the most current version by the time of this writing (May 13th, 2011).
  2. Extract the archive. For the rest of the instructions I will assume X:\src.boost_1_46_1 as the directory the archive has been extracted into.
  3. Open a Visual Studio command prompt from the Visual Studio Tools submenu. Depending on what you intend to build, you have to use the 32-bit or 64-bit compiler environment. Execute all commands listed in the rest of the instructions from within this command prompt.
  4. Run bootstrap.bat. This will build bjam.exe.
  5. Modify the mpi.jam file located in the tools\build\v2\tools subdirectory to search for MS-MPI in the right place, or use my modified mpi.jam for boost 1.46.1 supporting MS-MPI v1 and v2 instead.
  6. Edit the user-config.jam file located in the tools\build\v2 subdirectory to contain the following line: using mpi ;.
  7. Execute the following to command to start the build and installation process: bjam.exe –build-dir=x:\src.boost_1_46_1\build\vs90-64 –prefix=x:\boost_1_46_1\vs90-64 install. Please note that I use different directories in the –build-dir and –prefix options, since I intend to remove the X:\src.boost_1_46_1 directory once boost is installed. Especially a debug build may use a significant amount of disc storage.
  8. Wait…
  9. There are several other options that you might want to explore, but in many cases the default does just fine. Using the command line from above, on Windows you will get static multi-threaded libraries in debug and release mode using shared runtime. On Windows, the default toolset is msvc, which is the Visual Studio compiler. You can change that via the toolset=xxx option, for example insert toolset=intel to the command line above just before install if you want to build using the Intel compilers.

Since it is uncomfortable to change mpi.jam whenever you are going to build a new version of boost, I filed a bug report on this and proposed to extend the search path to include MS-MPI v2 locations as well.

In order to use this build of boost, in your projects you have to add X:\boost_1_46_1\vs90-32\include\boost-1_46_1 to the list of include directories, and X:\boost_1_46_1\vs90-32\lib to the list of library directories (all acording to the directory scheme I used above). In your code you do #include <boost/mpi.hpp>. The boost header files contain directives to link the correct boost libraries automatically, but of course you have to linke with the MS-MPI library you used to build boost with.