Flux Research Group / School of Computing

Fail-Slow at Scale: Evidence of Hardware Performance Faults in Large Production Systems

Haryadi S. Gunawi, Riza O. Suminto, Russell Sears, Casey Golliher, Swaminathan Sundararaman, Xing Lin, Tim Emami, Weiguang Sheng, Nematollah Bidokhti, Caitie McCaffrey, Gary Grider, Parks M. Fields, Kevin Harms, Robert Ricci, and Kirk Webb

Proceedings of the 16th USENIX Conference on File and Storage Technologies (FAST) 2018.

Testbeds, Storage


Fail-slow hardware is an under-studied failure mode. We present a study of 101 reports of fail-slow hardware incidents, collected from large-scale cluster deployments in 12 institutions. We show that all hardware types such as disk, SSD, CPU, memory and network components can exhibit performance faults. We made several important observations such as faults convert from one form to another, the cascading root causes and impacts can be long, and fail-slow faults can have varying symptoms. From this study, we make suggestions to vendors, operators, and systems designers.