Checkpointing SPAdes for Metagenome Assembly: Transparency versus Performance in Production

Authors: Twinkle Jain and Jie Wang

Session: Talk Session III

Time: February 5, 2021 9:30pm - 10:00pm PST

Abbstract - The SPAdes assembler for metagenome assembly is a long-running application commonly used at the NERSC supercomputing site. However, NERSC, like many other sites, has a 48-hour limit on resource allocations. The solution is to chain together multiple resource allocations in a single run, using checkpoint-restart. This case study provides insights into the “pain points” in applying a well-known checkpointing package (DMTCP: Distributed MultiThreaded CheckPointing) to long- running production workloads of SPAdes. This work has exposed several bugs and limitations of DMTCP, which were fixed to support the large memory and fragmented intermediate files of SPAdes. But perhaps more interesting for other applications, this work reveals a tension between the transparency goals of DMTCP and performance concerns due to an I/O bottleneck during the checkpointing process when supporting large memory and many files. Suggestions are made for overcoming this I/O bottleneck, which provides important “lessons learned” for similar applications.

Index Terms -SPAdes, Checkpoint-Restart, Metagenome As- sembly, DMTCP

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