Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: Application Domains

Empirical Studies of Large Scale Platforms

Experiments or realistic simulations are required to take into account the impact of allocations and assess the real behavior of scheduling algorithms. While theoretical models still have their interest to lay the groundwork for algorithmic designs, the models are necessarily reflecting a purified view of the reality. As transferring our algorithm in a more practical setting is an important part of our creed, we need to ensure that the theoretical results found using simplified models can really be transposed to real situations. On the way to exascale computing, large scale systems become harder to study, to develop or to calibrate because of the costs in both time and energy of such processes. It is often impossible to convince managers to use a production cluster for several hours simply to test modifications in the RJMS. Moreover, as the existing RJMS production systems need to be highly reliable, each evolution requires several real scale test iterations. The consequence is that scheduling algorithms used in production systems are mostly outdated and not customized correctly. To circumvent this pitfall, we need to develop tools and methodologies for alternative empirical studies, from analysis of workload traces, to job models, simulation and emulation with reproducibility concerns.

Workload Traces with Resource Consumption

Workload traces are the base element to capture the behavior of complete systems composed of submitted jobs, running applications, and operating tools. These traces must be obtained on production platforms to provide relevant and representative data. To get a better understanding of the use of such systems, we need to look at both, how the jobs interact with the job management system, and how they use the allocated resources. We propose a general workload trace format that adds jobs resource consumption to the commonly used SWF (Standard Workload Format: workload trace format. This requires to instrument the platforms, in particular to trace resource consumptions like CPU, data movements at memory, network and I/O levels, with an acceptable performance impact. In a previous work we studied and proposed a dedicated job monitoring tool whose impact on the system has been measured as lightweight (0.35% speed-down) with a 1 minute sampling rate. Other tools also explore job monitoring, like TACC Stats. A unique feature from our tool is its ability to monitor distinctly jobs sharing common nodes.

Collected workload traces with jobs resource consumption will be publicly released and serve to provide data for works presented in Section 4.1. The trace analysis is expected to give valuable insights to define models encompassing complex behaviours like network topology sensitivity, network congestion and resource interferences.

We expect to join efforts with partners for collecting quality traces (ATOS/Bull, Ciment meso center, Joint Laboratory on Extreme Scale Computing) and will collaborate with the Inria team POLARIS for their analysis.


Simulations of large scale systems are faster by multiple orders of magnitude than real experiments. Unfortunately, replacing experiments with simulations is not as easy as it may sound, as it brings a host of new problems to address in order to ensure that the simulations are closely approximating the execution of typical workloads on real production clusters. Most of these problems are actually not directly related to scheduling algorithms assessment, in the sense that the workload and platform models should be defined independently from the algorithm evaluations, in order to ensure a fair assessment of the algorithms' strengths and weaknesses. These research topics (namely platform modeling, job models and simulator calibration) are addressed in the other subsections.

We developed an open source platform simulator within DataMove (in conjunction with the OAR development team) to provide a widely distributable test bed for reproducible scheduling algorithm evaluation. Our simulator, named Batsim, allows to simulate the behavior of a computational platform executing a workload scheduled by any given scheduling algorithm. To obtain sound simulation results and to broaden the scope of the experiments that can be done thanks to Batsim, we did not chose to create a (necessarily limited) simulator from scratch, but instead to build on top of the SimGrid simulation framework.

To be open to as many batch schedulers as possible, Batsim decouples the platform simulation and the scheduling decisions in two clearly-separated software components communicating through a complete and documented protocol. The Batsim component is in charge of simulating the computational resources behaviour whereas the scheduler component is in charge of taking scheduling decisions. The scheduler component may be both a resource and a job management system. For jobs, scheduling decisions can be to execute a job, to delay its execution or simply to reject it. For resources, other decisions can be taken, for example to change the power state of a machine i.e. to change its speed (in order to lower its energy consumption) or to switch it on or off. This separation of concerns also enables interfacing with potentially any commercial RJMS, as long as the communication protocol with Batsim is implemented. A proof of concept is already available with the OAR RJMS.

Using this test bed opens new research perspectives. It allows to test a large range of platforms and workloads to better understand the real behavior of our algorithms in a production setting. In turn, this opens the possibility to tailor algorithms for a particular platform or application, and to precisely identify the possible shortcomings of the theoretical models used.

Job and Platform Models

The central purpose of the Batsim simulator is to simulate job behaviors on a given target platform under a given resource allocation policy. Depending on the workload, a significant number of jobs are parallel applications with communications and file system accesses. It is not conceivable to simulate individually all these operations for each job on large plaforms with their associated workload due to implied simulation complexity. The challenge is to define a coarse grain job model accurate enough to reproduce parallel application behavior according to the target platform characteristics. We will explore models similar to the BSP (Bulk Synchronous Program) approach that decomposes an application in local computation supersteps ended by global communications and a global synchronization. The model parameters will be established by means of trace analysis as discussed previously, but also by instrumenting some parallel applications to capture communication patterns. This instrumentation will have a significant impact on the concerned application performance, restricting its use to a few applications only. There are a lot of recurrent applications executed on HPC platform, this fact will help to reduce the required number of instrumentations and captures. To assign each job a model, we are considering to adapt the concept of application signatures as proposed in. Platform models and their calibration are also required. Large parts of these models, like those related to network, are provided by Simgrid. Other parts as the filesystem and energy models are comparatively recent and will need to be enhanced or reworked to reflect the HPC platform evolutions. These models are then generally calibrated by running suitable benchmarks.

Emulation and Reproducibility

The use of coarse models in simulation implies to set aside some details. This simplification may hide system behaviors that could impact significantly and negatively the metrics we try to enhance. This issue is particularly relevant when large scale platforms are considered due to the impossibility to run tests at nominal scale on these real platforms. A common approach to circumvent this issue is the use of emulation techniques to reproduce, under certain conditions, the behavior of large platforms on smaller ones. Emulation represents a natural complement to simulation by allowing to execute directly large parts of the actual evaluated software and system, but at the price of larger compute times and a need for more resources. The emulation approach was chosen in to compare two job management systems from workload traces of the CURIE supercomputer (80000 cores). The challenge is to design methods and tools to emulate with sufficient accuracy the platform and the workload (data movement, I/O transfers, communication, applications interference). We will also intend to leverage emulation tools like Distem from the MADYNES team. It is also important to note that the Batsim simulator also uses emulation techniques to support the core scheduling module from actual RJMS. But the integration level is not the same when considering emulation for larger parts of the system (RJMS, compute node, network and filesystem).

Replaying traces implies to prepare and manage complex software stacks including the OS, the resource management system, the distributed filesystem and the applications as well as the tools required to conduct experiments. Preparing these stacks generate specific issues, one of the major one being the support for reproducibility. We propose to further develop the concept of reconstructability to improve experiment reproducibility by capturing the build process of the complete software stack. This approach ensures reproducibility over time better than other ways by keeping all data (original packages, build recipe and Kameleon engine) needed to build the software stack.

In this context, the Grid'5000 (see Sec. 6.4) experimentation infrastructure that gives users the control on the complete software stack is a crucial tool for our research goals. We will pursue our strong implication in this infrastructure.