Toward an Optimal Online Checkpoint Solution under a Two-Level HPC Checkpoint Model

Sheng Di, Yves Robert, Frederic Vivien, Franck Cappello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The traditional single-level checkpointing method suffers from significant overhead on large-scale platforms. Hence, multilevel checkpointing protocols have been studied extensively in recent years. The multilevel checkpoint approach allows different levels of checkpoints to be set (each with different checkpoint overheads and recovery abilities), in order to further improve the fault tolerance performance of extreme-scale HPC applications. How to optimize the checkpoint intervals for each level, however, is an extremely difficult problem. In this paper, we construct an easy-to-use two-level checkpoint model. Checkpoint level 1 deals with errors with low checkpoint/recovery overheads such as transient memory errors, while checkpoint level 2 deals with hardware crashes such as node failures. Compared with previous optimization work, our new optimal checkpoint solution offers two improvements: (1) it is an online solution without requiring knowledge of the job length in advance, and (2) it shows that periodic patterns are optimal and determines the best pattern. We evaluate the proposed solution and compare it with the most up-to-date related approaches on an extreme-scale simulation testbed constructed based on a real HPC application execution. Simulation results show that our proposed solution outperforms other optimized solutions and can improve the performance significantly in some cases. Specifically, with the new solution the wall-clock time can be reduced by up to 25.3 percent over that of other state-of-the-art approaches. Finally, a brute-force comparison with all possible patterns shows that our solution is always within $1$ percent of the best pattern in the experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7442859
Pages (from-to)244-259
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • fault tolerance
  • High-performance computing
  • multilevel checkpoint
  • optimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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