Distributed shared memory (DSM) systems allow programmers to use a shared memory programming model on distributed systems. However, DSM systems present new challenges to performance evaluation and debugging. While programmers write programs with a shared memory model using shared variables and shared memory synchronization primitives to coordinate processes, most performance problems arise from the implementation of these abstractions with messages. Because the DSM abstraction hides the underlying message passing, it is difficult to identify the sources of performance problems. We have developed an instrumentation system and performance evaluation techniques for DSM systems that correlate message passing behavior in the lower levels of a DSM system with the higher-level shared memory programming abstractions. We have developed a prototype tool called Xunify to demonstrate the feasibility of such an approach. Xunify provides graphical animations of DSM programs at three distinct levels and offers a powerful event filtering facility capable to help show system behavior corresponding to specific DSM constructs.
Special Issue Papers