Understanding Metadata Latency with MDWorkbench

  • Julian Martin KunkelEmail author
  • George S. Markomanolis
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11203)


While parallel file systems often satisfy the need of applications with bulk synchronous I/O, they lack capabilities of dealing with metadata intense workloads. Typically, in procurements, the focus lies on the aggregated metadata throughput using the MDTest benchmark ( However, metadata performance is crucial for interactive use. Metadata benchmarks involve even more parameters compared to I/O benchmarks. There are several aspects that are currently uncovered and, therefore, not in the focus of vendors to investigate. Particularly, response latency and interactive workloads operating on a working set of data. The lack of capabilities from file systems can be observed when looking at the IO-500 list, where metadata performance between best and worst system does not differ significantly.

In this paper, we introduce a new benchmark called MDWorkbench which generates a reproducible workload emulating many concurrent users or – in an alternative view – queuing systems. This benchmark provides a detailed latency profile, overcomes caching issues, and provides a method to assess the quality of the observed throughput. We evaluate the benchmark on state-of-the-art parallel file systems with GPFS (IBM Spectrum Scale), Lustre, Cray’s Datawarp, and DDN IME, and conclude that we can reveal characteristics that could not be identified before.



Thanks for DDN providing access to their facility and the discussion with Jean-Thomas Acquaviva and Jay Lofstead. This research used resources of the KAUST Supercomputing Core Laboratory, of the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility and NERSC, which are under DOE Office of Science User Facilities supported under Contract DE-AC02-06CH11357 and DE-AC02-05CH11231 respectively.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julian Martin Kunkel
    • 1
    Email author
  • George S. Markomanolis
    • 2
  1. 1.University of ReadingReadingUK
  2. 2.KAUST Supercomputing LaboratoryThuwalSaudi Arabia

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