November 2007
Software Enabling Technologies for Petascale Science
Garth Gibson, Carnegie Mellon University
Bianca Schroeder, Carnegie Mellon University
Joan Digney, Carnegie Mellon University

Data Sources

The primary data set we are studying was collected between 1995 and 2005 at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL, www.lanl.gov) and covers 22 high-performance computing systems, including a total of 4,750 machines and 24,101 processors.5 Figure 1 shows pictures of two LANL systems. The data contain an entry for any failure that occurred during the nine year time period that resulted in an application interruption or a node outage. It covers all aspects of system failures: software failures, hardware failures, failures due to operator error, network failures, and failures due to environmental problems (e.g., power outages). For each failure, the data notes start time and end time, the system and node affected, as well as categorized root cause information. To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest failure data set studied to date, both in terms of the time-period it spans and the number of systems and processors it covers. It is also the first to be publicly available to researchers.6

Figure 1a

Figure 1b

Figure 1. Example high-performance computer clusters at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Blue Mountain (top) and ASC Q.

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Reference this article
Gibson, G., Schroeder, B., Digney, J. "Failure Tolerance in Petascale Computers," CTWatch Quarterly, Volume 3, Number 4, November 2007. http://www.ctwatch.org/quarterly/articles/2007/11/failure-tolerance-in-petascale-computers/

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