Variation Among Processors Under Turbo Boost in HPC Systems
International Conference on Supercomputing (ICS) 2016
Publication Type: Paper
The design and manufacture of present-day CPUs causes inherent variation in supercomputer architectures such as variation in power and temperature of the chips. The variation also manifests itself as frequency differences among processors under Turbo Boost dynamic overclocking. This variation can lead to unpredictable and suboptimal performance in tightly coupled HPC applications. In this study, we use compute-intensive kernels and applications to analyze the variation among processors in four top supercomputers: Edison, Cab, Stampede, and Blue Waters. We observe that there is an execution time difference of up to 16% among processors on the Turbo Boost-enabled supercomputers: Edison, Cab, Stampede. There is less than 1% variation on Blue Waters, which does not have a dynamic overclocking feature. We analyze measurements from temperature and power instrumentation and find that intrinsic differences in the chips’ power efficiency is the culprit behind the frequency variation. Moreover, we analyze potential solutions such as disabling Turbo Boost, leaving idle cores and replacing slow chips to mitigate the variation. We also propose a speed-aware dynamic task redistribution (load balancing) algorithm to reduce the negative effects of performance variation. Our speed-aware load balancing algorithm improves the performance up to 18% compared to no load balancing performance and 6% better than the non-speed aware counterpart.