Performance Evaluation Framework
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Performance Evaluation Framework (PEF)

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PEF is a framework for evaluating performance of... almost everything. The framework is NOT a ready-to-use tool. Instead, it's a canvas one can fill with appropriate details to get a complete ready-to-use tool. The resulting tool is called "PEF-tool".

PEF is intended for those wanting to execute very specific performance evaluation scenarios. Namely, scenarios that cannot be mimicked by means of state-of-the-art generic synthetic benchmarks.

PEF takes the following approach to performance evaluation:

  • it's assumed that a workload used to evaluate performance consists of a number of "tasks". PEF user must define what the task actually is. This is done by coding the task in plain C/C++
  • PEF allows distributing the tasks between 1 or more concurrently running threads. The distribution strategy must also be coded by an user. The number of tasks to do in a particular run of the PEF-tool and the number of threads to spawn are passed to the tool as command-line arguments
  • each thread - "worker" in PEF terminology - spawned by the PEF-tool performs tasks assigned to it one-by-one. Simultaneously the worker collects execution statistics of every task it performs
  • when the workers complete, the PEF-tool emits overall execution report
  • this report can then be processed by custom-written scripts or in Excel, or somewhere else to derive higher-level reports intended to highlight specific performance metrics

Below is a list of capabilities that PEF provides to PEF-tool developers:

  • measurement of wall-clock time
  • abstractions that allow easy switching to different time representations and time measurement methods
  • generation of execution reports
  • progress monitoring
  • instruments for self-verification to make debugging of PEF-tools easier
  • error reporting and verbose prints
  • canvas for configuration part of PEF-tools
  • canvas for implementing multi-threaded performance benchmarks

As was already said, PEF is a canvas one might fill to get a ready-to-use PEF-tool. To make this filling easier, PEF comes in a form of reference implementation. This reference implementation is a ready-to-use PEF-tool intended for evaluating File System performance in a very specific way. To get his/her own PEF-tool, one needs to take this reference implementation and replace details specific to the File System evaluation scenario by his/her own details.

Reference implementation

The reference PEF-tool implements a very specific File System performance evaluation scenario. The tool writes the specified amount of files to a locally mounted file system. All the files are of the same size which is passed to the tool as a command-line argument. Every file is written sequentially.

Different files can be written concurrently. In this case every single file will still be written sequentially, but the files themselves will be distributed evenly between the specified amount of workers.

If requested, each worker may put every "so-many" files it creates to a separate directory. "So-many" amount is passed to the tool as a command-line argument. If the workers ARE required to create the directories, they do that on on-demand basis. When a worker starts, it creates a directory and begins filling it with the files. When a "files per directory" limit is reached, the worker creates a new directory, which becomes a home to the new files being created by the worker. Again, only until the limit is reached. So on... All the directories are created at the same level inside the same pre-existing directory. The workers don't share directories they create. Each worker creates directories for its files by its own. If "files per directory" limit is not set, then all the workers create their files inside the same pre-existing directory.

The reference PEF-tool performs "sync()" operation on the following objects:

  • on every data file after it's written
  • on a data file's parent directory after the data file is written
  • on a perent directory of a newly created directory (if the tool is requested to create intermediate directories)

After the workload is completed, the refernce tool emits an execution report in a form of two files named "pef_TIMESTAMP__stat.summary" and "pef_TIMESTAMP__stat.details", where "TIMESTAMP" is date and time when the tool was started. The only execution statistics collected by the tool is time when a data file was written. The time is collected for every data file written.

To build the tool:

  1. build WTMLIB first. The reference tool relies on it for measuring wall-clock time. It's assumed in the reference build scenario that WTMLIB and PEF-tool itself are cloned to the same parent directory
  2. execute make or make debug to build release or debug version of the tool accordingly. The debug version comes with build-in consistency checks. Some of these checks may potentially exist inside performance-critical sections of the code. Thus, this build mode is not intended for obtaining trusted performance evaluation results, but only for the purpose of finding bugs in the code

Then you can run ./pef to read a help message on using the tool.

The reference implementation also comes with an auxiliary script intended for producing bandwidth report from PEF-tool execution report (i.e. how many megabytes per second was the tool able to write to the File System while it was progressing). Execute python3 help to learn how to use the script.

Project structure

  • src/common.h - common tools that can be used by any code module: assertions, debugging, logging
  • src/config.cpp and src/config.h - configuration part of PEF-tool. Change this file to switch to your own configuration (command-line options, environment variables, so on)
  • src/pef.cpp - main PEF driver. Normally needs to be changed only slightly when implementing a new PEF-tool (report-emitting part, memory allocation part an maybe other minor parts)
  • src/time.h - this is where time representation and time manipulation routines are encapsulated. Change this module if you want to add a different time representation and/or different time-measurement method
  • src/worker.cpp and src/worker.h - worker thread implementation. The actual performance benchmark's logic. This is where one should place code of his/her own performance benchmark
  • scripts/ - auxiliary script to produce bandwidth report from the PEF-tool's execution report

Design notes

  1. The main underlying design principle of PEF is "staying as non-invasive as possible". I.e. PEF-tool's orchestration logic must not interfere with performance benchmark's logic. For example, in reference implementation execution statistics is fully collected in memory first. And only when the benchmark is completed, the statistics is stored to persistent location. Emitting statistics on-the-fly might distort performance results. Also by default the reference PEF-tool doesn't print its progress. That's because progress reporting may potentially interfere with the actual workload. If a user (or - more generally speaking - a client) does want to have progress reporting, he/she can set the progress update interval. The bigger is the interval, the less probable and less harmful will be the interference. Don't use progress reporting if you don't tolerate any interference
  2. There is the following build-in usability feature. Execution report is emitted regardless of errors that might have happened while the workers were running. There are two reasons for that:
    • debugging purposes. Execution statistics collected before (at least one of) workers failed may aid in investigating the issue
    • convenience. For example, assume one wants the reference PEF-tool to fill the File System with data entirely. It's hard to pre-calculate the amount of tasks needed for that. To do precise calculations one needs to know what fraction of space will be occupied with the data and what fraction of the space will be filled with the corresponding metadata. So, instead of doing this calculation, one may ask the tool to write deliberately more files than the File System can hold. The tool will write the data until the File System is full. When that happens (i.e. the tool gets an error while trying to write the data), the tool stops writing files and emits all the statistics collected so far. Thus, this is an example of a case when a client deliberately wants the tool to fail.
  3. One more usability feature of the reference implementation. Execution report consists of two parts: 1) execution summary and configuration properties; 2) detailed per-task execution statistics. Each part is stored in its own file. Detailed execution statistics is emitted first, execution summary and configuration parameters are emitted last. This ordering is significant. That's because the last line of summary file is expected to hold a report completeness statement. If this statement is present, that means that the overall execution report was emitted fully. If this statement is absent - or even the summary file itself is absent - that means that problems occured while emitting the report or even earlier. In this case the report files alone (if any) are not sufficient to acquire an understanding of how successful the corresponding PEF-tool run was and whether all collected task-granular execution statistics is on disk. Of course, all errors occuring during PEF-tool execution must be reported by the tool before it exits. But this is a runtime machanism. "Report completeness" feature instead allows learning - at least partially - PEF-tool error status from on-disk artifacts. For example, assume that artifacts from several runs of the same PEF-tool were collected in a single directory. Thanks to "report completeness" feature, inspecting just the artifacts alone allows to understand which runs have been successful (and therefore could be analyzed further) and which have failed


Copyright © 2019 Andrey Nevolin,

This software is provided under the Apache 2.0 Software license provided in the file