Open MPI logo

FAQ:
Tuning the OMPIO parallel I/O component

  |   Home   |   Support   |   FAQ   |   all just the FAQ

Table of contents:

  1. What is the OMPIO?
  2. How can I use OMPIO?
  3. How do I know what MCA parameters are available for tuning the performance of OMPIO?
  4. How can I choose the right component for a sub-framework of OMPIO
  5. How can I tune OMPIO parameters to improve performance?
  6. What are the main parameters of the fs framework and components?
  7. What are the main parameters of the fbtl framework and components?
  8. What are the main parameters of the fcoll framework and components?
  9. What are the main parameters of the sharedfp framework and components?
  10. How do I tune collective I/O operations?
  11. When should I use the [individual] sharedfp component and what are its limitations?
  12. What other features of OMPIO are available?
  13. Known limitations


1. What is the OMPIO?

OMPIO is an implementation of the MPI I/O functions defined in version two of the Message Passing Interface specification. The main goals of OMPIO are three fold. First, it increases the modularity of the parallel I/O library by separating MPI I/O functionality into sub-frameworks. Second, it allows frameworks to utilize different run-time decision algorithms to determine which module to use in a particular scenario, enabling non-file system specific decisions. Third, it improves the integration of parallel I/O functions with other components of Open MPI, most notably the derived data type engine and the progress engine. The integration with the derived data type engine allows for faster decoding of derived data types and the usage of optimized data type to data type copy operations.

OMPIO is fundamentally a component of the io framework in Open MPI. Upon open a file, the OMPIO component initiallizes a number of sub-frameworks and their components, namely

  • fs framework: responsible for all file management operations
  • fbtl framework: support for individual blocking and non-blocking I/O operations
  • fcoll framework: support for collective blocking and non-blocking I/O operations
  • sharedfp framework: support for all shared file pointer operations.


2. How can I use OMPIO?

OMPIO is included in all Open MPI releases starting from version 1.7. Note, that in the 1.7, 1.8, and 1.10 series it is however not the default library used for parallel I/O operations, and thus has to be explicitely requested by the end-user, e.g.

1
mpirun --mca io ompio -np 64 ./myapplication

OMPIO is the default MPI I/O library used by Open MPI in the current nightly builts and is scheduled to be the default MPI I/O library in the upcoming 2.x release of Open MPI. Note, that the version of OMPIO available in the 1.7, 1.8 and 1.10 series is known to have some limitations.


3. How do I know what MCA parameters are available for tuning the performance of OMPIO?

The ompi_info command can display all the parameters available for the ompio io, all fcoll, fs, and sharedfp components:

1
2
3
4
shell$ ompi_info --param io       ompio
shell$ ompi_info --param fcoll    all 
shell$ ompi_info --param fs       all
shell$ ompi_info --param sharedfp all 


4. How can I choose the right component for a sub-framework of OMPIO

The OMPIO architecture is designed around sub-frameworks, which allow to develop relatively small of code optimized for a particular environment, application or infrastructure. Although significant efforts have been invested into making good decisions for default values and switching points between components, users and/or system administrators might occasionally want to tune the selection logic of the components and force the utilization of a particular component.

The simplest way to force the usage of a component is to simply restrict the list of available components for that framework. For example, an application wanting to use the dynamic fcoll component simply has to pass the name of the component as a value to the corresponding MCA parameter during mpirun or any other mechanism available in Open MPI to influence a parameter value, e.g.

1
mpirun --mca fcoll dynamic -np 64 ./myapplication

fs and fbtl components are typically chosen based on the file system type utilized, e.g. the pvfs2 component is chosen when the file is located on an PVFS2 file system, the lustre component is chosen for Lustre file systems etc.

The fcoll framework provides four different implementation, which provide different levels of data reorganization across processes. two_phase, dynamic segmentation, static segmentation and individual provide decreasing communication costs during the shuffle phase of the collective I/O operations (in the order listed here), but provide also decreasing contiguity guarantuees of the data items before the aggregators read/write data to/from the file. The current decision logic in OMPIO is using the file view provided by the application as well as file system level characteristics (stripe width of the file system) in the selection logic of the fcoll framework.

The sharedfp framework provides different implementation of the shared file pointer operations depending on file system features (specifically: support for file locking) ([lockedfile]), locality of the MPI processes in the communicator that has been used to open the file ([sm]), or guarantuess by the application on using only a subset of the available functionality (i.e. write operations only)([individual]). Furthermore, a component which utilizes an additional process that is spawned upon opening a file ([addproc]) is available in the nightly builts, but not in the v2.x series.


5. How can I tune OMPIO parameters to improve performance?

The most important parameters influencing the performance of an I/O operation are listed below:

  • io_ompio_cycle_buffer_size: Data size issued by individual reads/writes per call. By default, an individual read/write operation will be executed as one chunk. Splitting the operation up into multiple, smaller chunks can lead to performance improvements in certain scenarios.
  • io_ompio_bytes_per_agg: Size of temporary buffer for collective I/O operations on aggregator processes. Default value is 32MB. Tuning this parameter has a very high impact on the performance of collective operations (See recommendations for tuning collective operations below).
  • io_ompio_num_aggregators: number of aggregators used in collective I/O operations. Setting this parameter to a value larger zero disables the internal automatic aggregator selection logic of OMPIO. Tuning this parameter has a very high impact on the performance of collective operations (See recommendations for tuning collective operations below).
  • io_ompio_grouping_option: algorithm used to automatically decide the number of aggregators used. Applications working with regular 2-D or 3-D data decomposition can try changing this parameter to 4 (hybrid) algorithm.


6. What are the main parameters of the fs framework and components?

The main parameters of the fs components allow to manipulate the layout of a new file on a parallel file system.

  • fs_pvfs2_stripe_size: sets the number of storage servers for a new file on a PVFS2 file system. If not set, system default will be used. Note, that this parameter can also be set through the stripe_size Info object.
  • fs_pvfs2_stripe_width:sets the size of an individual block for a new file on a PVFS2 file system. If not set, system default will be used. Note, that this parameter can also be set through the stripe_width Info object.
  • fs_lustre_stripe_size: sets the number of storage servers for a new file on a Lustre file system. If not set, system default will be used. Note, that this parameter can also be set through the stripe_size Info object.
  • fs_lustre_stripe_width:sets the size of an individual block for a new file on a Lustre file system. If not set, system default will be used. Note, that this parameter can also be set through the stripe_width Info object.
.


7. What are the main parameters of the fbtl framework and components?

No performance relevant parameters are available for the fbtl components at this point.


8. What are the main parameters of the fcoll framework and components?

The design of the fcoll frameworks maximizes the utilization of parameters of the OMPIO component, in order to minimize the number of similar MCA parameter in each component. For example, the two_phase, dynamic, static components all retrieve the io_ompio_bytes_per_agg parameter to define the collective buffer size and the io_ompio_num_aggregators parameter to force the utilization of a given number of aggregators.


9. What are the main parameters of the sharedfp framework and components?

No performance relevant parameters are available for the sharedfp components at this point.


10. How do I tune collective I/O operations?

The most influential parameter that can be tuned in advance is the io_ompio_bytes_per_agg parameter of the ompio component. This parameter is essential for the selection of the collective I/O component as well for determining the optimal number of aggregators for a collective I/O operation. It is a file system specific value, independent of the application scenario. To determine the correct value on your system, take an I/O benchmark, e.g. the IMB or IOR benchmark, and run an individual, single process write test. E.g. for IMB

1
mpirun -np 1 ./IMB-IO S_write_indv

For IMB, use the values obtained for AGGREGATE test cases. Plot the bandwidth over the message length. The recommended value for io_ompio_bytes_per_agg is the smallest message length which achieves (close to) maximum bandwidth from that processes perspective. (Note: Make sure that the io_ompio_cycle_buffer_size parameter is set to -1 when running this test, which is its default value). The value of io_ompio_bytes_per_agg could be set by system administrators into the system wide Open MPI configuration file, or by users individually. See the FAQ entry on setting MCA parameters. for all details.

For more exhaustive tuning of I/O parameters, we recommend the utilization of the Open Tool for Parameter Optimization (OTPO) a tool specifically designed to explore the MCA parameter space of Open MPI.


11. When should I use the [individual] sharedfp component and what are its limitations?

The individual sharedfp component provides an approximation of shared file pointer operations that can be used for write operations only. It is only recommended in scenarios, where neither the sm nor the lockedfile component can be used, e.g. due to the fact that more than one node are being used and the file system does not support locking.

Conceptually, each process writes the data of a write_shared operation into a separate file along with a time stamp. In every collective operation (latest in file_close), data from all individual files are merged into the actual output file, using the time stamps as the main criteria.

The component has certain limitations and restrictions, such as its relience on the synchronization accuracy of the clock on the cluster to determine the order between entries in the final file, which might lead to some deviations compared to the actual calling sequence.

If you need support for shared file pointers operations beyond one node, for read and write operations, on a file system not supporting file locking, consider using the addproc component, which spawns an additional process upon opening a file.


12. What other features of OMPIO are available?

OMPIO has a number of additional features, mostly directed towards developers, which could occasionally also be useful to interested end-users. These can typically be controlled through MCA parameters. c

  • io_ompio_sharedfp_lazy_open By default, ompio does not establish the necessary data structures required for shared file pointer operations during file_open. It delays generating these data structures until the first utilization of a shared file pointer routine. This is done mostly to minimize the memory footprint of ompio, and due to the fact that shared file pointer operations are rarely used compared to the other functions. Setting this parameter to 0 disables this optimization.
  • io_ompio_coll_timing_info Setting this parameter will lead to a short report upon closing a file indicating the amount of time spent in communication and I/O operations of collective I/O operations only.
  • io_ompio_record_file_offset_info Setting this parameter will report neighborhood relationship of processes based on the file view used. This is occasionally important for understanding performance characteristics of I/O operations. Note, that using this features requires an additional compile time flag when compiling ompio.

    The output file generated as a result of this flag provides the access pattern of processes to the file recorded as neighborhood relationships of processes as a matrix. For example, if the first four bytes of a file is being accessed by process 0, the next four bytes by process 1, processes 0 and 1 are said to have a neighborhood relationship since they access neighboring elements of the file. For each neighborhood relation detected in the file, the value for the corresponding pair of processes is increased by one.

    Data is provided in compressed row storage format. To minimize the amount of data writting using this feature, only non-zero values are being displayed. The first row in the output file indicates the number of non-zero elements in the matrix, the second number is the number of elements in the row index. The third row of the output file gives all the column indexes. The fourth row lists all the values and the fifth row gives the row index. A row index represents the position in the value array where a new row starts.


13. Known limitations

OMPIO in version 2.x of Open MPI implements most of the I/O functionality of the MPI specification. There are however two not very commonly used functions that are not implemented as of today:

  • switching from the relaxed consistency semantics of MPI to stricter, sequential consistency through the MPI_File_set_atomiticity functions
  • Using user defined data representations are not supported