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Characterizing application sensitivity to OS interference using kernel-level noise injection

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3 Author(s)
Kurt B. Ferreira ; Computer Science Department, The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, 87131, USA ; Patrick Bridges ; Ron Brightwell

Operating system noise has been shown to be a key limiter of application scalability in high-end systems. While several studies have attempted to quantify the sources and effects of system interference using user-level mechanisms, there are few published studies on the effect of different kinds of kernel-generated noise on application performance at scale. In this paper, we examine the sensitivity of real-world, large-scale applications to a range of OS noise patterns using a kernel-based noise injection mechanism implemented in the Catamount lightweight kernel. Our results demonstrate the importance of how noise is generated, in terms of frequency and duration, and how this impact changes with application scale. For example, our results show that 2.5% net processor noise at 10,000 nodes can have no impact or can result in over a factor of 20 slowdown for the same application, depending solely on how the noise is generated. We also discuss how the characteristics of the applications we studied, for example computation/communication ratios, collective communication sizes, and other characteristics, related to their tendency to amplify or absorb noise. Finally, we discuss the implications of our findings on the design of new operating systems, middleware, and other system services for high-end parallel systems.

Published in:

2008 SC - International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis

Date of Conference:

15-21 Nov. 2008