[Rd] Performance issues with R2.15.1 built from source on Solaris?

From: Eberle, Anthony <aeber_at_allstate.com>
Date: Wed, 08 Aug 2012 18:55:37 -0500


I have a question about building R (2.15.1) from source on a Solaris 10 64bit virtual server with 2 cores and 16GB memory that is running on an Oracle T4 server. Based on several tests I have done this configuration has been several orders of magnitude slower than any other configuration I've tested.

A simple test of some code to calculate the standard deviation 10000 times (simple code to consume resources) takes on average 121.498 seconds on the Solaris server where the next worst system (Redhat Linux) takes 1.567 seconds:

t0 <- proc.time()[[3]]
x <- rnorm(10000)
for(i in 1:10000){

sd(x)
}
print(proc.time()[[3]]-t0)

R-Benchmark (http://r.research.att.com/benchmarks/R-benchmark-25.R) is taking 185.624 seconds total on Solaris 10 whereas my next worst system is taking 84.182 seconds

I understand that there would be some performance hit running on a virtual server; however these differences seem to be several times larger than I would have expected.

I've consulted the admin guide
(http://cran.r-project.org/doc/manuals/R-admin.pdf) I used the provided make file and the only other configuration change I made was to use shared libraries based on some of the packages I wanted to use (--enable-R-shlib) I did have to use gcc (v3.4.6) as I ran into the problem referenced in the admin guide about trying to build R with SunStudio12.2. This was based on a compiled version of gcc that I had available to me; so not sure if using a newer version of gcc would provide significant performance gains. It seems that most of the information in the admin guide for Solaris details how to get R to build from source and not much detail about performance configurations or tweaks to make it run faster. I've searched around on the internet as well as the mailing lists and have not found a lot of information yet about configuring performance from R on Solaris.

An interesting note is that I was able to build R 2.15.1 from source on an physical Ultra 27 X86_64 server running Solaris 11 (6GB memory) and had no problems and performance is comparable to all the other systems I tested (for example, the standard deviation test only takes about 0.6985 seconds to run on average [gcc v4.5.2])

I'm trying to get hold of a physical Solaris 10 server to evaluate if Solaris 11 is possibility causing any of the performance gain although I know that X86_64 will likely perform better than SPARC.

Was wondering if anyone else has experience building R on Solaris or has thoughts or considerations on what I should look at to increase performance if possible.

Thanks in advance.

Anthony

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