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Subject: Re: [OMPI users] Message compression in OpenMPI
From: Aurélien Bouteiller (bouteill_at_[hidden])
Date: 2008-04-24 15:37:41

 From a pretty old experiment I made, compression was giving good
results on 10Mbps network but was actually decreasing RTT on 100Mbs
and more. I played with all the zlib settings from 1 to 9, and
actually even the low compression setting was unable to reach decent
performance. I don't believe that the computing/bandwidth ratio has
changed to favor compression.


Le 24 avr. 08 à 11:06, George Bosilca a écrit :

> Actually, even in this particular condition (over internet)1
> compression make sense only for very specific data. The problem is
> that usually the compression algorithm is very expensive if you want
> to really get a interesting factor of size reduction. And there is
> the tradeoff, what you save in terms of data transfer you lose in
> terms of compression time. In other terms, the compression became
> interesting in only 2 scenarios: you have a very congested network
> (really very very congested) or you have a network with a limited
> bandwidth.
> The algorithm use in the paper you cited is fast, but unfortunately
> very specific for MPI_DOUBLE and only works if the data exhibit the
> properties I cited in my previous email. The generic compression
> algorithms are at least one order of magnitude slower. And then
> again, one needs a very slow network in order to get any benefits
> from doing the compression ... And of course slow networks is not
> exactly the most common place where you will find MPI applications.
> But as Jeff stated in his email, contributions are always welcomed :)
> george.
> On Apr 24, 2008, at 8:26 AM, Tomas Ukkonen wrote:
>> George Bosilca wrote:
>>> The paper you cited, while presenting a particular implementation
>>> doesn't bring present any new ideas. The compression of the data
>>> was studied for long time, and [unfortunately] it always came back
>>> to the same result. In the general case, not worth the effort !
>>> Now of course, if one limit itself to very regular applications
>>> (such as the one presented in the paper), where the matrices
>>> involved in the computation are well conditioned (such as in the
>>> paper), and if you only use MPI_DOUBLE (\cite{same_paper}), and
>>> finally if you only expect to run over slow Ethernet (1Gbs)
>>> (\cite{same_paper_again})... then yes one might get some benefit.
>> Yes, you are probably right that its not worth the effort in
>> general and
>> especially not in HPC environments where you have very fast network.
>> But I can think of (rather important) special cases where it is
>> important
>> - non HPC environments with slow network: beowulf clusters and/or
>> internet + normal PCs where you use existing workstations and
>> network
>> for computations.
>> - communication/io-bound computations where you transfer
>> large redundant datasets between nodes
>> So it would be nice to be able to turn on the compression (for spefic
>> communicators and/or data transfers) when you need it.
>> --
>> Tomas
>>> george.
>>> On Apr 22, 2008, at 9:03 AM, Tomas Ukkonen wrote:
>>>> Hello
>>>> I read from somewhere that OpenMPI supports
>>>> some kind of data compression but I couldn't find
>>>> any information about it.
>>>> Is this true and how it can be used?
>>>> Does anyone have any experiences about using it?
>>>> Is it possible to use compression in just some
>>>> subset of communications (communicator
>>>> specific compression settings)?
>>>> In our MPI application we are transferring large
>>>> amounts of sparse/redundant data that compresses
>>>> very well. Also my initial tests showed significant
>>>> improvements in performance.
>>>> There are also articles that suggest that compression
>>>> should be used [1].
>>>> [1] J. Ke, M. Burtcher and E. Speight.
>>>> Runtime Compression of MPI Messages to Improve the
>>>> Performance and Scalability of Parallel Applications.
>>>> Thanks in advance,
>>>> Tomas
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