Mapping Out the HPC Dependency Chaos


High Performance Computing (HPC) software stacks have become complex, with the dependencies of some applications numbering in the hundreds. Packaging, distributing, and administering software stacks of that scale is a complex undertaking anywhere. HPC systems deal with esoteric compilers, hardware, and a panoply of uncommon combinations. In this paper, we explore the mechanisms available for packaging software to find its own dependencies in the context of a taxonomy of software distribution, and discuss their benefits and pitfalls. We discuss workarounds for some common problems caused by using these composed stacks and introduce Shrinkwrap: A solution to producing binaries that directly load their dependencies from precise locations and in a precise order. Beyond simplifying the use of the binaries, this approach also speeds up loading as much as 7× for a large dynamically-linked MPI application in our evaluation.