[Beowulf] I/O workload of an application in distributed file system

Robert Latham robl at mcs.anl.gov
Mon Nov 26 11:06:03 EST 2007

On Thu, Nov 22, 2007 at 10:15:25AM -0500, Mark Hahn wrote:
> with that in mind, my opinion is that cluster IO testing should be
> a combination of:
> 	- parallel streaming IO to separate files - resembling a checkpoint,
> 	or an IO-intensive app reading, or an app where the user forgot to
> 	turn off debugging.
> 	- smallish metadata-heavy traffic like time(tar zxf;make;make clean).

The word 'distributed' in the subject is telling... I like to make a
distiction between 'distributed', 'cluster', and 'parallell' file

Distributed:  uncorrdinated access among processes.  Possibly over the
wide area. Total capacity is important, but performance is not.

Cluster: local access only.  maybe homedir-style accesses (lots of
metadata operations, lots of small file creation/reading/writing --
unpack a tarball, compile a kernel).  also has uncoordinated access
among many processes.

Parallel: a high performance file system for parallel applications
doing large amounts of I/O.  Coordinated access, likely via MPI-IO.

This is verring a bit off topic from the original question... 

I'd like to suggest that I/O to separate files, while certainly a
popular I/O workload, should be considered a legacy workload, or at
the very least not a high-performance workload.

Applications should be encouraged if at all possible to do their I/O
to a single large file.  Supercompuer applications, further, should do
all their I/O through either MPI-IO or a high-level library on top of
MPI-IO (parallel-HDF5, parallel-NetCDF, etc).

Lots of files compilcates the data management problem and eliminiates
several optimization opportunities for the I/O software stack.


Rob Latham
Mathematics and Computer Science Division    A215 0178 EA2D B059 8CDF
Argonne National Lab, IL USA                 B29D F333 664A 4280 315B
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