Wednesday Jul 22, 2009

Internship at Sun Microsystems

Most of you already know that I did an
internship at Sun Microsystems India Engineering Center this summer
(I am sure I have bragged enough about it). The internship has been a
fantastic experience. The very first day I was welcomed by Rajesh,
the Sun CA program co-ordinator for the south of India and Ganesh
Hiregoudar, the APAC Head of the Sun CA Program. On the very next day
I got a complete list of projects in my preferred area, High
Performance Computing (HPC). I chose a project and a conference call
was scheduled with the concerned Sun Engineer, in my case it was
Verdi March, who works at the Sun Singapore office and is also a
researcher at National University of Singapore (NUS). I was also
alloted an account at Singapore Grid Discovery Zone to run my apps.
My project was to find the per function speed up of a parallel
application across multiple profiles. If you haven't understood
anything, don't worry. I will explain.

Any computer application is made up of
functions (I trust you already knew that). Profiling an application
involves executing it and finding performance metrics out of it, like
number of system calls, the time taken for each such call, the time
taken by each function to complete,the amount of memory used, the
number of bytes of inter process communication done by the
application etc. In my case, all the applications were parallel ones,
applications which use more than one CPU/cores/nodes. Now each time
you run a app, under different conditions like different number of
CPU, the performance characteristics will be different. Function will
take different amounts of time to complete under different
conditions, sometimes lesser time (a speed-up) and sometimes more (a
speed down, i.e a speed up of less than 1). My job was to write a
program that could read the performance profiles and calculate this
speed up.

Here comes SCALASCA (Scalable Analysis
of Large Scale Parallel Applications). SCALASCA profiles and analyses
parallel apps. It been developed by the Julich Supercomputing Centre
in Germany and has been used on such well known supercomputers like
the Blue Gene......

My job was to extend SCALASCA to
calculate the per function speed up. SCALASCA already does the job of
profiling your application and generating a trace in XML format. It
also provides an API to read/write those files. However, there isn't
much documentation available on SCALASCA as the developers are mainly
people at the Julich Supercomputing Centre. Neither is there a
mailing list for discussing problems. Hence I spent a hell lot of
time going through the source and trying to understand the underlying
design. The problem was further compounded by the near lack of
comments in the source code. However, the SCALASCA developers,
particularly Markus Geimer and Brian Wylie replied to all my question
which enabled me to understand the CUBE API (CUBE is the tool that
displays the performance data in the form of a GUI and allows you to
perform operations on it).

Understanding the architecture of
SCALASCA and the CUBE API took me quite a few days. And finally on
the fourth week, I had nearly written a code that I believed would do
the job. However there are still a few compilation errors to be taken
care of (They have reduced from 26 to 4 now). I should complete the
whole thing in the next couple of days.

I also met many of the other CAs. Made
great friends with Abhishek Uppala, Vasusen Patil, Jay, Avinash,
Abhishek Gupta, Okendra and others. Rajesh and Ganesh were always
helpful and approachable. They are the best bosses you can get. I,
Rajesh, Uppala and Vasusen also made a trip to Pondicherry. It was a
fantastic experience. We played Foosball daily and my performance as
a defender improved from pathetic to passable. We also had a few CA
conferences and a team lunch as a farewell to Vijaya Santosh, a CA

Overall the experience was amazing and
I am looking forward to go back to IEC.


Hi. I am Sandip Dev. I am a student of Computer Engineering at SVNIT (NIT-Surat). My passions are coding, listening to music, reading and learning new things. I am also the Chairperson of the ACM Chapter of my college and Sun Campus Ambassador here.


« February 2017