Publications / SAND Report

Improving performance via mini-applications

Doerfler, Douglas W.; Crozier, Paul C.; Edwards, Harold C.; Williams, Alan B.; Rajan, Mahesh R.; Keiter, Eric R.; Thornquist, Heidi K.

Application performance is determined by a combination of many choices: hardware platform, runtime environment, languages and compilers used, algorithm choice and implementation, and more. In this complicated environment, we find that the use of mini-applications - small self-contained proxies for real applications - is an excellent approach for rapidly exploring the parameter space of all these choices. Furthermore, use of mini-applications enriches the interaction between application, library and computer system developers by providing explicit functioning software and concrete performance results that lead to detailed, focused discussions of design trade-offs, algorithm choices and runtime performance issues. In this paper we discuss a collection of mini-applications and demonstrate how we use them to analyze and improve application performance on new and future computer platforms.