Portable, high-performance containers for HPC

Lucas Benedicic, Felipe A. Cruz, Alberto Madonna, Kean Mariotti
Systems Integration Group, CSCS, Swiss National Supercomputing Centre, Lugano, Switzerland
arXiv:1704.03383 [cs.DC], (11 Apr 2017)


   title={Portable, high-performance containers for HPC},

   author={Benedicic, Lucas and Cruz, Felipe A. and Madonna, Alberto and Mariotti, Kean},






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Building and deploying software on high-end computing systems is a challenging task. High performance applications have to reliably run across multiple platforms and environments, and make use of site-specific resources while resolving complicated software-stack dependencies. Containers are a type of lightweight virtualization technology that attempt to solve this problem by packaging applications and their environments into standard units of software that are: portable, easy to build and deploy, have a small footprint, and low runtime overhead. In this work we present an extension to the container runtime of Shifter that provides containerized applications with a mechanism to access GPU accelerators and specialized networking from the host system, effectively enabling performance portability of containers across HPC resources. The presented extension makes possible to rapidly deploy high-performance software on supercomputers from containerized applications that have been developed, built, and tested in non-HPC commodity hardware, e.g. the laptop or workstation of a researcher.
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