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ZipThru: A software architecture that exploits Zipfian skew in datasets for accelerating Big Data analysis

posted on 16.12.2020, 14:03 by Ejebagom J Ojogbo
In the past decade, Big Data analysis has become a central part of many industries including entertainment, social networking, and online commerce. MapReduce, pioneered by Google, is a popular programming model for Big Data analysis, famous for its easy programmability due to automatic data partitioning, fault tolerance, and high performance. Majority of MapReduce workloads are summarizations, where the final output is a per-key ``reduced" version of the input, highlighting a shared property of each key in the input dataset.

While MapReduce was originally proposed for massive data analyses on networked clusters, the model is also applicable to datasets small enough to be analyzed on a single server. In this single-server context the intermediate tuple state generated by mappers is saved to memory, and only after all Map tasks have finished are reducers allowed to process it. This Map-then-Reduce sequential mode of execution leads to distant reuse of the intermediate state, resulting in poor locality for memory accesses. In addition the size of the intermediate state is often too large to fit in the on-chip caches, leading to numerous cache misses as the state grows during execution, further degrading performance. It is well known, however, that many large datasets used in these workloads possess a Zipfian/Power Law skew, where a minority of keys (e.g., 10\%) appear in a majority of tuples/records (e.g., 70\%).

I propose ZipThru, a novel MapReduce software architecture that exploits this skew to keep the tuples for the popular keys on-chip, processing them on the fly and thus improving reuse of their intermediate state and curtailing off-chip misses. ZipThru achieves this using four key mechanisms: 1) Concurrent execution of both Map and Reduce phases; 2) Holding only the small, reduced state of the minority of popular keys on-chip during execution; 3) Using a lookup table built from pre-processing a subset of the input to distinguish between popular and unpopular keys; and 4) Load balancing the concurrently executing Map and Reduce phases to efficiently share on-chip resources.

Evaluations using Phoenix, a shared-memory MapReduce implementation, on 16- and 32-core servers reveal that ZipThru incurs 72\% fewer cache misses on average over traditional MapReduce while achieving average speedups of 2.75x and 1.73x on both machines respectively.


BIGDATA: Collaborative Research: F: RDMA-Based Datacenter Networks for Online Big Data Applications

Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering

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Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

T.N. Vijaykumar

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Mithuna S. Thottethodi

Additional Committee Member 2

Milind Kulkarni

Additional Committee Member 3

Samuel P. Midkiff