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Characterizing and Optimizing Virtualization Overhead for Portable High-performance Networking

Gabriel E. Martinez  (Virginia Tech)
ACM Student Competition Session
Wednesday,  11:06AM - 11:24AM
Room 17A/17B
Virtual machines have reached a level of sophistication that they are now used in production computing environments, particularly in the enterprise. However, virtualization can also benefit high-performance computing (HPC) as it masks the differences between computing platforms and encapsulates a computation's operating environment, thereby enhancing portability. However, performance can suffer, particularly with respect to networking and I/O. For example, packets traverse two network stacks with full virtualization, as found in VMware Server. While with paravirtualization, as found in Xen, the modified guest OS bypasses the guest's network stack, and hence, delivers better performance. Yet even Xen suffers a degree of performance degradation. Through a rigorous experimental study, we quantify the sources of overhead and present optimizations that can be taken to make virtualization a viable and useful tool for HPC.
   IEEE Computer Society  /  ACM     2 0   Y E A R S   -   U N L E A S H I N G   T H E   P O W E R   O F   H P C