I'm having trouble understanding and solving the problem.

Suppose we have a program which is composed of 3 portions A, B and C and that each portion takes $t_A$, $t_B$ and $t_C$ respectively to run on a single-core CPU.

Assume that $t_A$ < $t_B$ < $t_C$

Assume we parallelize only the portion C of the code and that we run the whole program on a cluster that has up to $N$ cores. The speedup we achieve is linear to the number of cores.

I have to plot the execution time vs the number of cores

What I don't understand is, how can you have a linear speedup ? I've tried playing around with Amdahl's formula to find a way to have a linear speedup to the number of cores. I might be mistaken, but I've realized that this is only possible if the speedup is equal to the number of cores (so I don't understand how you can achieve a linear speedup).

If you could explain this to me, that would be very helpful, thank you.

  • $\begingroup$ I suggest forgetting for a minute about Amdahl's formula. If we parallelize $C$ perfectly, then its running time drops from $t_C$ to $t_C/N$. Therefore the total running time drops from $t_A+t_B+t_C$ to $t_A+t_B+t_C/N$. $\endgroup$ Sep 23, 2020 at 22:53
  • $\begingroup$ I agree on that 100%. But how is the speedup linear to the number of cores ? $\endgroup$
    – Skyris
    Sep 23, 2020 at 22:56
  • $\begingroup$ What you're suggesting I do, is simply plot $f(N) = t_A + t_B + t_C/N $, right? $\endgroup$
    – Skyris
    Sep 23, 2020 at 22:57
  • $\begingroup$ That’s the meaning of linear speedup. You have N cores, the time drops by a factor of N. $\endgroup$ Sep 23, 2020 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. Also, notice how Amdahl’s law is just a fancy name for the ratio of two quantities. $\endgroup$ Sep 23, 2020 at 23:00

1 Answer 1


The phrase

The speedup we achieve is linear to the number of cores.

refers only to the C portion of the program. Therefore the running time on $N$ cores is

$$ t_A + t_B + \frac{t_C}{N}. $$

The speedup is

$$ \frac{t_A + t_B + t_C}{t_A + t_B + t_C/N} = \frac{1}{\frac{t_A + t_B + t_C/N}{t_A+t_B+t_C}} = \frac{1}{\frac{t_A+t_B}{t_A+t_B+t_C}+\frac{1}{N} \frac{t_C}{t_A+t_B+t_C}}. $$ This is Amdahl's law.


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