Monitoring slurm efficiency with reportseff


As I started using Snakemake, I had hundreds of jobs that I wanted to get performance information about. seff gives the efficiency information I wanted, but for only a single job at a time. sacct handles multiple jobs, but couldn’t give the efficiency. With the current python implementation of reportseff, all job information is obtained from a single sacct call and with click the output is colored to quickly see how things are running.

Be good to your scheduler

An introduction to scheduling efficiency

Have you ever hosted an event that had to provide food? Perhaps you sent out RSVP’s to estimate how many people would attend, guessed a handful of people would show up but not respond, and ordered some pizza. If you ordered enough food for 20 people and 18 showed, that would be a pizza efficiency of 90%. But what if only 2 people showed up? Or 30? As extreme as these numbers seem, memory and cpu usage efficiencies around 10% are not uncommon.

The goal of a scheduler is to take the user-provided resource estimates for many jobs and decide who runs when. Let’s say I have a small cluster with 64 cores, 128 GB of memory and want to run an array job of single-core processes with an estimated memory usage of 4 GB. The scheduler will allow only 32 jobs to run at once (128 GB / 4 GB) leaving half of the cores idling. If I actually only use 1 GB of memory, 64 jobs could be running instead.

Good jobs use the resources they promise to.

In practice, many more details of the system and user are incorporated into the decision to schedule a job. Once the scheduler decides a job will run, the scheduler has to dispatch the job. The overhead associated with scheduling only makes sense if the job will run for longer than a few minutes. Instead of submitting 1000 jobs that perform 1 minute of work, group 100 subprocesses together as 10 jobs with 100 minutes of work.

Good jobs run long enough to matter.

If every job on a cluster is efficient and long-running, the scheduler can make accurate decisions on execution order and keep usage high.

Why it matters as a user?

“But my qos only allows 2 jobs to run at once if the time is less than 1 hour! Can’t I say my 10 minute job will take 1 hour?” Yes, but it is rude to the scheduler. If that doesn’t sway you, improperly estimating resource usage can:

  • Decrease your priority for subsequent jobs.
  • Cause your account to be charged for the full, estimated usage.
  • Have fewer of your jobs running simultaneously.
  • Make it harder to fit your job into the available cluster resources, increasing the queue time.

Monitoring efficiency

Before releasing a swarm of jobs, check the estimated vs predicted usage. Tune your parameters to improve efficiency.

Seff provides efficiency estimates for a single job. But to look at your usage for many jobs or monitor usage, I wrote reportseff. It polls sacct and calculates the same efficiency information as seff, but outputs a tabular report.

During testing, I looked at random ranges of jobids on a Princeton cluster. Here is some typical output, with jobids modified to protect the innocent:

During testing, I looked at random ranges of jobids on a Princeton cluster. Here is some typical output, with jobids modified to protect the innocent:

     Name           State          Time       CPU    Memory
       XXXXX000   COMPLETED       00:01:53   97.3%    14.0%
       XXXXX001   COMPLETED       00:02:19   84.2%    14.0%
       XXXXX002   COMPLETED       00:06:33   28.2%    14.0%
       XXXXX003   COMPLETED       00:04:59   39.1%    14.0%
       XXXXX004   COMPLETED       00:02:31   97.4%    9.2%
       XXXXX005   COMPLETED       00:02:38   98.1%    9.1%
       XXXXX006   COMPLETED       00:02:24   97.2%    9.1%
       XXXXX007   COMPLETED       00:02:40   98.1%    9.0%
       XXXXX008   COMPLETED       00:02:39   96.2%    9.1%
       XXXXX009   COMPLETED       00:02:45   96.4%    9.0%
       XXXXX012   COMPLETED       00:00:53   58.5%    10.6%
       XXXXX013   COMPLETED       00:02:13   38.3%    10.6%
       XXXXX014   COMPLETED       00:37:02   44.9%    10.6%
       XXXXX015   COMPLETED       00:44:33   34.0%    10.6%
       XXXXX016   COMPLETED       00:38:29   29.6%    10.7%
       XXXXX017   COMPLETED       00:19:57   74.5%    10.8%
       XXXXX018   COMPLETED       00:14:25   95.0%    10.8%
       XXXXX019   COMPLETED       00:35:38   2.6%     10.6%
       XXXXX020   COMPLETED       00:02:16   38.2%    10.6%
       XXXXX021   COMPLETED       00:02:34   46.1%    10.9%
       XXXXX022   COMPLETED       00:20:53   7.1%     10.6%
       XXXXX023   COMPLETED       00:01:00   95.0%    11.1%
       XXXXX024   COMPLETED       00:09:06   88.5%    10.5%
       XXXXX025   COMPLETED       00:08:08   95.3%    10.6%

This is from at least 3 different users across departments.

Notice how short the jobs are (most <5 minutes) and how little memory is used, about 500 MB of 4 GB in most cases. Another example is jobs with 4 cores using 25% of CPU. Though batching together short jobs is slightly difficult (nested for loops with some arithmetic), using the correct number of cores and cutting memory to improve usage is a simple fix.

Try reportseff out and see if you have been good to your scheduler! The readme has installation and usage instructions to get started.