System Virtualization for Proactive Fault-Tolerant Computing

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Title: System Virtualization for Proactive Fault-Tolerant Computing
Author: Nagarajan, Arun Babu
Advisors: Dr. Xiaosong MA, Committee Member
Dr. Xiaohui (Helen) Gu, Committee Member
Dr. Frank Mueller, Committee Chair
Abstract: Large-scale parallel computing is relying increasingly on clusters with thousands of processors. At such large counts of compute nodes, faults are becoming common place. Current techniques to tolerate faults focus on reactive schemes to recover from faults and generally rely on a checkpoint/restart mechanism. Yet, in today's systems, node failures can often be anticipated by detecting a deteriorating health status. Instead of a reactive scheme for fault tolerance (FT), we are promoting a proactive one where processes automatically migrate from "unhealthy" nodes to healthy ones. Our approach relies on operating system virtualization techniques exemplified by but not limited to Xen. This thesis contributes an automatic and transparent mechanism for proactive FT for arbitrary MPI applications. It leverages virtualization techniques combined with health monitoring and load-based migration. We exploit Xen's live migration mechanism for a guest operating system (OS) to migrate an MPI task from a health-deteriorating node to a healthy one without stopping the MPI task during most of the migration. Our proactive FT daemon orchestrates the tasks of health monitoring, load determination and initiation of guest OS migration. Experimental results demonstrate that live migration hides migration costs and limits the overhead to only a few seconds making it an attractive approach to realize FT in HPC systems. Overall, our enhancements make proactive FT a valuable asset for long-running MPI application that is complementary to reactive FT using full checkpoint⁄restart schemes since checkpoint frequencies can be reduced as fewer unanticipated failures are encountered. In the context of OS virtualization, we believe that this is the first comprehensive study of proactive fault tolerance where live migration is actually triggered by health monitoring.
Date: 2008-05-02
Degree: MS
Discipline: Computer Science

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