The Ghost of Performance Reproducibility Past
The importance of ensemble computing is well established. However, executing ensembles at scale introduces interesting performance fluctuations that have not been well investigated. In this paper, we trace our experience uncovering performance fluctuations of ensemble applications (primarily constituting a workflow of GROMACS tasks), and unsuccessful attempts, so far, at trying to discern the underlying cause(s) of performance fluctuations. Is the failure to discern the causative or contributing factors a failure of capability? Or imagination? Do the fluctuations have their genesis in some inscrutable aspect of the system or software? Does it warrant a fundamental reassessment and rethinking of how we assume and conceptualize performance reproducibility? Answers to these questions are
not straightforward, nor are they immediate or obvious. We conclude with a discussion about the performance of ensemble applications and ruminate over the implications for how we define and measure application performance.