Argonne National Laboratory

On the Root Causes of Cross-Application I/O Interference in HPC Storage Systems

TitleOn the Root Causes of Cross-Application I/O Interference in HPC Storage Systems
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsYildiz, O, Dorier, M, Ibrahim, S, Ross, R, Antoniu, G
Conference NameIPDPS 2016
Conference LocationChicago, IL
Other NumbersANL/MCS-P5484-1215
AbstractAs we move toward the exascale era, performance variability in HPC systems remains a challenge. I/O inter- ference, a major cause of this variability, is becoming more important every day with the growing number of concurrent applications that share larger machines. Earlier research efforts on mitigating I/O interference focus on a single potential cause of interference (e.g., the network). Yet the root causes of I/O interference can be diverse. In this work, we conduct an extensive experimental campaign to explore the various root causes of I/O interference in HPC storage systems. We use microbenchmarks on the Grid’5000 testbed to evaluate how the applications’ access pattern, the network components, the file system’s configuration, and the backend storage devices influence I/O interference. Our studies reveal that in many situations interference is a result of bad flow control in the I/O path, rather than being caused by some single bottleneck in one of its components. We further show that interference- free behavior is not necessarily a sign of optimal performance. To the best of our knowledge, our work provides the first deep insight into the role of each of the potential root causes of interference and their interplay. Our findings can help developers and platform owners improve I/O performance and motivate further research addressing the problem across all components of the I/O stack.