Damaris: Addressing performance variability in data management for post-petascale simulations

Matthieu Dorier, Gabriel Antoniu, Franck Cappello, Marc Snir, Robert Sisneros, Orcun Yildiz, Shadi Ibrahim, Tom Peterka, Leigh Orf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With exascale computing on the horizon, reducing performance variability in data management tasks (storage, visualization, analysis, etc.) is becoming a key challenge in sustaining high performance. This variability significantly impacts the overall application performance at scale and its predictability over time. In this article, we present Damaris, a system that leverages dedicated cores in multicore nodes to offload data management tasks, including I/O, data compression, scheduling of datamovements, in situ analysis, and visualization. We evaluate Damaris with the CM1 atmospheric simulation and the Nek5000 computational fluid dynamic simulation on four platforms, including NICS's Kraken and NCSA's Blue Waters. Our results show that (1) Damaris fully hides the I/O variability as well as all I/O-related costs, thus making simulation performance predictable; (2) it increases the sustained write throughput by a factor of up to 15 compared with standard I/O approaches; (3) it allows almost perfect scalability of the simulation up to over 9,000 cores, as opposed to state-of-The-Art approaches that fail to scale; and (4) it enables a seamless connection to the VisIt visualization software to perform in situ analysis and visualization in a way that impacts neither the performance of the simulation nor its variability. In addition, we extended our implementation of Damaris to also support the use of dedicated nodes and conducted a thorough comparison of the two approaches-dedicated cores and dedicated nodes-for I/O tasks with the aforementioned applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-43
Number of pages43
JournalACM Transactions on Parallel Computing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2016


  • Damaris
  • Dedicated cores
  • Dedicated nodes
  • Exascale computing
  • I/O
  • In situ visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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