New cluster benchmark proposal (Re: top500 list)

Felix Rauch rauch at
Wed Nov 19 08:56:33 EST 2003

On Tue, 18 Nov 2003, Robert G. Brown wrote:
> I don't think that they are quite "done", though, (at least the last
> time I checked) so yes, I'd call it a "start" to the idea.  Not really
> my idea, as you can see.  I think there are lots of folks who have
> thought on this, and lots more that have a de facto suite they use
> whether or not they are packaged.  lmbench, netpipe, netperf, bonnie,
> memtest86 -- lots of tools out there for doing bits of this, some of
> them very nice.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but if I remember correctly netpipe
and netperf are one-to-one benchmarks. While these are important to
find out more about (and tune) the performance of your NICs, we need
more to find out about the overall performance of the whole cluster

There are switches who's backplane offers only half bisectional
bandwidth, which might be fine for some applications. Other switches
are advertized to offer full bisectional bandwidth, but they simply
can't hold the promise. Other switches are expensive but deliver real
full bisection bandwidth. Some applications don't care if they don't
have a full-bisection-bandwidth network -- others do.

So, for a comprehensive cluster benchmark, we should also have tools
to get insight into the inner workings of the network. Our reserach
group introduced such a benchmark as part of our paper
"Cost/Performance Tradeoffs in Network Interconnects for Clusters of
Commodity PCs" presented at this years CAC workshop (see [1]). We
found out that some switches perform rather poorly for some
communication patterns and that a full bisection bandwidth can play a
role for the performance of some applications (e.g. car traffic

While we don't have a ready-to-be-used-for-all-clusters kind of
benchmark, I still hope the ideas might be valuable for this

- Felix


Felix Rauch                      | Email: rauch at
Institute for Computer Systems   | Homepage:
ETH Zentrum / RZ H16             | Phone: +41 1 632 7489
CH - 8092 Zuerich / Switzerland  | Fax:   +41 1 632 1307

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