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Elbencho – A New Storage Benchmark for AI

Germany, Feb 03, 2021 — Elbencho, a new open-source storage benchmark tool, is now available to help organizations that demand high performance and need to evaluate performance of modern storage systems, optionally including GPUs in the storage access. Elbencho is available for download at: https://github.com/breuner/elbencho

Traditionally, storage system vendors published numbers primarily based on simple large block streaming bandwidth. This was because the mechanics of spinning disks performed poorly for almost all other workloads. The rapid price drops in recent years have given rise to all-flash systems. With that, data scientists started developing new algorithms that relied on fast flash storage devices for far more challenging access patterns. Deep learning with its demand for reading lots of small files or random reads with high concurrency is one of the major drivers in this area. But with high speed NVMe or Optane SSDs, the storage software (i.e. the file system or block service) becomes a much more critical part of the data path, making it hard to predict the storage system performance for these new access patterns.

Realizing the above, Sven Breuner, the creator of the BeeGFS parallel file system, published elbencho, a new benchmark tool. It covers a broad range of test cases, among them tests for lots of small files with varying size, access latency, IOPS for random access to shared files and others. For all test cases, it shows live statistics to see how a system behaves under load. Elbencho is also the first independent tool to officially support Nvidia’s new GPUDirect Storage (GDS) API to check how much storage performance is available to the GPUs. GDS support was added during Nvidia’s current GDS public beta phase after official permission from Nvidia.

“Since its initial release in 2020, elbencho has received very positive feedback and is already in use by a number of major vendors to gain new insights for their customers. However, feedback or contributions to make it even more useful are always welcome.”, says Sven Breuner. Elbencho is available on github for everyone to use and contribute. “A major contribution came from Zettar Inc, a leader in moving data at scale and speed, based on their work with the US Department of Energy (DOE) and others.”

Zettar contributed a set of storage sweep tools, which automatically test the attainable storage performance for a broad range of file sizes and creates a chart for the results at the end. “Elbencho and the storage sweep tools finally give storage users world-wide the ability to quickly understand their storage systems, rather than depending on published numbers that are meaningless for their actual workloads”, comments Chin Fang, CEO of Zettar. “In contrast to benchmark suites like IO500 or SPEC SFS, elbencho does not try to predefine a certain workload and instead enables users to test what actually matters to them – be it on a single host or coordinated across multiple storage clients”.

 

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