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What is the Tungsten Project?

Tungsten is the codename for the umbrella project to make changes to Apache Spark’s execution engine that focuses on substantially improving the efficiency of memory and CPU for Spark applications, to push performance closer to the limits of modern hardware.

Tungsten Project Includes These Initiatives:

  • Memory Management and Binary Processing: leveraging application semantics to manage memory explicitly and eliminate the overhead of JVM object model and garbage collection
  • Cache-aware computation: algorithms and data structures to exploit memory hierarchy
  • Code generation: using code generation to exploit modern compilers and CPUs
  • No virtual function dispatches: this reduces multiple CPU calls which can have a profound impact on performance when dispatching billions of times.
  • Intermediate data in memory vs CPU registers: Tungsten Phase 2 places intermediate data into CPU registers. This is an order of magnitudes reduction in the number of cycles to obtain data from the CPU registers instead of from memory
  • Loop unrolling and SIMD: Optimize Apache Spark’s execution engine to take advantage of modern compilers and CPUs’ ability to efficiently compile and execute simple for loops (as opposed to complex function call graphs).

The focus on CPU efficiency is motivated by the fact that Spark workloads are increasingly bottlenecked by CPU and memory use rather than IO and network communication. The trend is shown by recent research on the performance of big data workloads.

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