Technical Reports

Distributed Graphical Simulation in the Cloud
Omid Mashayekhi, Chinmayee Shah, Hang Qu, Andrew Lim, Philip Levis
Graphical simulations are a cornerstone of modern media and films. But existing software packages are designed to run on HPC nodes, and perform poorly in the computing cloud. These simulations have complex data access patterns over complex data structures, and mutate data arbitrarily, and so are a poor fit for existing cloud computing systems. We describe a software architecture for running graphical simulations in the cloud that decouples control logic, computations and data exchanges. This allows a central controller to balance load by redistributing computations, and recover from failures. Evaluations show that the architecture can run existing, state-of-the-art simulations in the presence of stragglers and failures, thereby enabling this large class of applications to use the computing cloud for the first time.
Scalable, Fast Cloud Computing with Execution Templates
Omid Mashayekhi, Hang Qu, Chinmayee Shah, Philip Levis
Large scale cloud data analytics applications are often CPU bound. Most of these cycles are wasted: benchmarks written in C++ run 10-51 times faster than frameworks such as Naiad and Spark. However, calling faster implementations from those frameworks only sees moderate (3-5x) speedups because their control planes cannot schedule work fast enough. This paper presents execution templates, a control plane abstraction for CPU-bound cloud applications, such as machine learning. Execution templates leverage highly repetitive control flow to cache scheduling decisions as templates. Rather than reschedule hundreds of thousands of tasks on every loop execution, nodes instantiate these templates. A controller's template specifies the execution across all worker nodes, which it partitions into per-worker templates. To ensure that templates execute correctly, controllers dynamically patch templates to match program control flow. We have implemented execution templates in Nimbus, a C++ cloud computing framework. Running in Nimbus, analytics benchmarks can run 16-43 times faster than in Naiad and Spark. Nimbus's control plane can scale out to run these faster benchmarks on up to 100 nodes (800 cores).