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The high performance computing (HPC) community has shown tremendous interest in exploring cloud computing as it promises high potential. In this paper, we examine the feasibility, performance, and scalability of production quality scientific and engineering applications of interest to NASA on NASA's cloud computing platform, called Nebula, hosted at Ames Research Center. This work represents the comprehensive evaluation of Nebula using NUTTCP, HPCC, NPB, I/O, and MPI function benchmarks as well as four applications representative of the NASA HPC workload. Specifically, we compare Nebula performance on some of these benchmarks and applications to that of NASA's Pleiades supercomputer, a traditional HPC system. We also investigate the impact of virtIO and jumbo frames on interconnect performance. Overall results indicate that on Nebula (i) virtIO and jumbo frames improve network bandwidth by a factor of 5x, (ii) there is a significant virtualization layer overhead of about 10% to 25%, (iii) write performance is lower by a factor of 25x, (iv) latency for short MPI messages is very high, and (v) overall performance is 15% to 48% lower than that on Pleiades for NASA HPC applications. We also comment on the usability of the cloud platform.
Date of Conference: 25-27 June 2012