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A Methodology for Performance Analysis of Applications Using Multi-layer I/O

Ronny Tschüter, Christian Herold, Bert Wesarg, and Matthias Weber

This paper was accepted for the 24th International European Conference On Parallel and Distributed Computing (Euro-Par 2018) which will take place on August 27-31, in Turin.


Efficient usage of file systems poses a major challenge for highly scalable parallel applications. The performance of even the most sophisticated I/O subsystems lags behind the compute capabilities of current processors. To improve the utilization of I/O subsystems, several libraries, such as HDF5, facilitate the implementation of parallel I/O operations. These libraries abstract from low-level I/O interfaces (for instance, Posix I/O) and may internally interact with additional I/O libraries. While improving usability, I/O libraries also add complexity and impede the analysis and optimization of application I/O performance.

In this work, we present a methodology to investigate application I/O behavior in detail. In contrast to current methods, our approach explicitly captures interactions between multiple I/O libraries. This allows to identify inefficiencies at individual layers of the I/O stack as well as to detect possible conflicts in the interplay between layers. We implement our methodology in an established performance monitoring infrastructure and demonstrate its effectiveness with an I/O analysis study of a cloud model simulation code. In summary, this work provides the foundation for application I/O tuning by exposing inefficiency patterns in the usage of I/O routines.

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