Runspec Avoidance

Using the SPEC CPU2006 benchmarks while making minimal use of SPEC's tool set

Last updated: $Date: 2011-09-07 11:08:21 -0400 (Wed, 07 Sep 2011) $ by $Author: CloyceS $

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Review two rules


Pick a benchmark

Pick a config file

Fake it

Find the log

Find the build dir

Copy the build dir (triple only)

Build it

Figure out the correct name for the binary

Place the binary in the run dir

Copy the run dir

Run it

Save your work



Note: links to SPEC CPU2006 documents on this web page assume that you are reading the page from a directory that also contains the other SPEC CPU2006 documents. If by some chance you are reading this web page from a location where the links do not work, try accessing the referenced documents at one of the following locations:


This document is for those who prefer to avoid using some of the SPEC-supplied tools, typically because of a need for more direct access to the benchmarks. For example:

If the above describes you, here is a suggested path which should lead quickly to your desired state. This document shows you how to use SPEC's tools for the minimal purpose of just generating work directories, for use as a private sandbox. Note, however, that you cannot do formal, "reportable" runs without using SPEC's toolset.


Three different environments are referenced in this document, using these labels:


  1. Review two rules: Please read just one page from runrules.html, namely "4.5 Research and Academic usage of CPU2006" and "4.6 Required Disclosures"

    These run rules sections acknowledge that the suite may be used in ways other than the formal environment that the tools help to enforce; but they warn that if you plan to publish your results, you should be able to state HOW your usage of the suite differs from the standard usage.

    So even if you skip over the tools and the run rules today, you should plan a time to come back and learn them later.

  2. Install: Get through a successful installation, even if it is on a different system than the one that you care about. Yes, we are about to teach you how to mostly bypass the tools, but there will still be some minimal use. So you need a working toolset and a valid installation. If you have troubles with the install procedures described in install-guide-unix.html or install-guide-windows.html, please see techsupport.html and we'll try to help you.

  3. Pick a benchmark: Pick a benchmark that will be your starting point.

    Choose one benchmark from the CPU2006 suite that you'd like to start with. For example, you might start with 410.bwaves (Fortran) or 470.lbm (C). These are two of the shortest benchmarks for lines of code, and therefore relatively easy to understand.

  4. Pick a config file: Pick a config file for an environment that resembles your environment. You'll find a variety of config files in the directory $SPEC/config/ on Unix systems, or %SPEC%\config\ on Windows, or at with the submitted CPU2006 results. Don't worry if the config file you pick doesn't exactly match your environment; you're just looking for a somewhat reasonable starting point.

  5. Fake it: Execute a "fake" run to set up run directories, including a build directory for source code, for the benchmark.

    For example, let's suppose that you want to work with 410.bwaves and your environment is at least partially similar to the environment described in the comments for Example-linux64-amd64-gcc43+.cfg

    [Other Unix-like systems should behave similarly to the example in this section.]

    For example, you could enter the following commands:

      % sh      
          ... if you're not already in a Bourne-compatible shell
      $ cd  /home/reiner/cpu2006/
          ... or wherever you installed the SPEC CPU2006 tree
      $ . ./shrc      (that's dot-space-dot-slash-shrc)
      $ cd config
      $ cp Example-linux64-amd64-gcc43+.cfg my_test.cfg
      $ runspec --fake --loose --size test --tune base --config my_test bwaves 
      ... (lots of stuff goes by, ending with)
      Success: 1x410.bwaves
      The log for this run is in /home/reiner/cpu2006/kit117/result/CPU2006.033.log
      runspec finished at Tue Jul  5 17:20:17 2011; 3 total seconds elapsed

    This command should report a success for the build, run and validation phases of the test case, but the actual commands have not been run. It is only a report of what would be run according to the config file that you have supplied. (History: The --fake option above was added in SPEC CPU2006 V1.0.)

  6. Find the log: Near the bottom of the output from the previous step, notice the location of the log file for this run -- in the example above, log number 033. The log file contains a record of the commands as reported by the "fake" run. You can find the commands by searching for "%%".

  7. Find the build dir: To find the build directory that was set up in the fake run, you can search for the string build/ in the log:

        $ cd $SPEC/result
        $ grep build/ CPU2006.033.log
        Wrote to makefile
        Wrote to makefile

    Or, you can just go directly to the benchmark build (*) directories and look for the most recent one. For example:,

      $ go bwaves
      $ /home/reiner/cpu2006/kit117/benchspec/CPU2006/410.bwaves
      $ cd build
      $ ls -gtd build*
      drwxrwxr-x 2 reiner 4096 Jul  5 17:20 build_base_gcc43-64bit.0000

    In the example above, go is shorthand for getting us around the SPEC tree. The ls -gtd command prints the names of each build subdirectory, with the most recent first. If this is your first time here, there will be only one directory listed, as in the example above. (On Windows, the "go" command is not available; use cd to get to the analogous directory, which would be spelt with reversed slashes. The top of the SPEC tree is "%SPEC%", not "$SPEC". Instead of "ls -gtd", you would say something like "dir build*/o:d".)

    You can work in this build directory, make source code changes, and try other build commands without affecting the original sources.

    (*) In CPU2006 V1.0, the build directories were located underneath nnn.bmark/run; now they are under nnn.bmark/build. For more information on the change, see the description of build_in_build_dir.

  8. Copy the build dir (triple only): If you are using a unified or cross-compile environment, you can skip to the next step. But if you are using a triple environment, then you will want to package up the build directory with a program such as tar -- a handy copy is in the bin directory of your SPEC installation, as spectar. Then, you will move the package off to whatever system has compilers.

    For example, you might say something like this:

      $ spectar -cvf  -  build_base_gcc43-64bit.0000 | specxz > mybuild.tar.xz
      $ ftp
      ftp> op buildsys
      Connected to buildsys
      Name: whoever
      ftp> bin
      ftp> put mybuild.tar.xz

    Note that the above example assumes that you have versions of xz and tar available on the system that has compilers, which you will use to unpack the compressed tarfile, typically with a command similar to this:

    xz -dc mybuild.tar.xz | tar -xvf -

    If you don't have xz available, you might try bzip2 or gzip on both the sending and receiving systems. If you use some other compression utility, be sure that it does not corrupt the files by destroying line endings, re-wrapping long lines, or otherwise subtracting value.

  9. Build it: Generate an executable using the build directory. If you are using a unified or cross-compile environment, then you can say commands such as these:

      $ cd build_base_gcc43-64bit.0000
      $ specmake clean
      $ specmake
      f90 -c -o block_solver.o ... 

    You can also carry out a dry run of the build, which will display the build commands without attempting to run them, by adding -n to the specmake command line. You might find it useful to capture the output of specmake -n to a file, so it can easily be edited, and used as a script.

    If you are trying to debug a new system, you can prototype changes to Makefile.spec or even to the benchmark sources.

    If you are using a triple environment, then presumably it's because you don't have specmake working on the system where the compiler resides. But fear not: specmake is just GNU make under another name, so whatever make you have handy on the target system might work fine with the above commands. If not, then you'll need to extract the build commands from the log and try them on the system that has the compilers, using commands such as the following:

    $ grep -n %% *033.log | grep make | grep build
    311:%% Fake commands from make (specmake -n build):
    318:%% End of fake output from make (specmake -n build)
    $ head -318 *033.log | tail -8
    %% Fake commands from make (specmake -n build):
    /usr/bin/gfortran -c -o block_solver.o -O2 -fno-strict-aliasing block_solver.f
    /usr/bin/gfortran -c -o flow_lam.o -O2 -fno-strict-aliasing flow_lam.f
    /usr/bin/gfortran -c -o flux_lam.o -O2 -fno-strict-aliasing flux_lam.f
    /usr/bin/gfortran -c -o jacobian_lam.o -O2 -fno-strict-aliasing jacobian_lam.f
    /usr/bin/gfortran -c -o shell_lam.o -O2 -fno-strict-aliasing shell_lam.f
    /usr/bin/gfortran   -O2 -fno-strict-aliasing  -DSPEC_CPU_LP64        block_solver.o flow_lam.o flux_lam.o jacobian_lam.o
    shell_lam.o                     -o bwaves
    %% End of fake output from make (specmake -n build)

    The first command above uses grep -n to find the line numbers of interest, and the second command prints them.

  10. Figure out the correct name for the binary: Once you have built an executable image, figure out its new name. You can either rename it now, in the build directory; or you can do so when you copy it to the run directory (next step). The new name will need to be of the form:



    For example, if you are working with a base version of 410.bwaves and your config file has the line:


    the correct name for the executable is bwaves_base.gcc43-64bit

  11. Place the binary in the run dir: Using techniques similar to those used to find the build directory, find the run directory established above, and place the binary into it. If you are using a unified or cross-compile environment, you can copy the binary directly into the run directory; if you are using a triple environment, then you'll have to retrieve the binary from the compilation system using whatever program (such as ftp) you use to communicate between systems.

    In a unified environment, the commands might look something like this:

       $ go result
       $ grep "Setting up" *033.log
         Setting up 410.bwaves test base gcc43-64bit default: created (run_base_test_gcc43-64bit.0000)
       $ go bwaves
       $ cd run/run_base_test_gcc43-64bit.0000/
       $ cp ../../build/build_base_gcc43-64bit.0000/bwaves ./bwaves_base.gcc43-64bit

    In the result directory, we search log 033 to find the correct name of the directory, go there, and copy the binary into it.

  12. Copy the run dir: If you are using a unified environment, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you'll need to package up the run directory and transport it to the system where you want to run the benchmark. For example:

       $ go bwaves run
       $ spectar cvf - run_base_test_gcc43-64bit.0000/ | specxz > myrun.tar.xz
       $ ftp
       ftp> op runsys
       Connected to runsys
       Name: whoever
       ftp> bin
       ftp> put myrun.tar.xz

    Note that the above example assumes that you have versions of xz and tar available on the run time system, which you will use to unpack the compressed tarfile, typically with something like this:

    xz -dc myrun.tar.xz | tar -xvf -

    If you don't have xz available, you might try bzip2 or gzip on both the sending and receiving systems. If you use some other compression utility, be sure that it does not corrupt the files by destroying line endings, re-wrapping long lines, or otherwise subtracting value.

  13. Run it: If you are using a unified environment, you are now ready to try specinvoke:

      $ specinvoke -n
            ... shows the command line that executes the benchmark
      $ specinvoke
            ... executes that command line

    For example:

    $ go bwav run
    $ cd run_base_test_gcc43-64bit.0000/
    $ specinvoke -n
    # specinvoke r6392
    #  Invoked as: specinvoke -n
    # timer ticks over every 1000 ns
    # Use another -n on the command line to see chdir commands and env dump
    # Starting run for copy #0
    ../run_base_test_gcc43-64bit.0000/bwaves_base.gcc43-64bit 2>> bwaves.err
    $ specinvoke 

    If you are using a cross-compile or triple environment, then you won't be able to use specinvoke. Instead, you'll need to extract the run commands from the log and enter them by hand. Recall that you can look for the string "%%" to help you find your way around the log file.

  14. Save your work: Important: if you are at all interested in saving your work, move the build/build* and run/run* directories to some safer location. That way, your work areas will not be accidentally deleted the next time someone comes along and uses one of runspec cleanup actions..

  15. Repeat: Admittedly, the large number of steps that it took to get here may seem like a lot of trouble. But that's why you started with a simple benchmark and the simplest workload (--size test in the fake step). Now that you've got the pattern down, it is hoped that it will be straightforward to repeat the process for the other available workloads: --size=train and --size=ref, and then for additional benchmarks.

    But if you're finding it tedious... then maybe this is an opportunity to sell you on the notion of using runspec after all, which automates all this tedium. If the reason you came here was because runspec doesn't work on your brand-new environment, then perhaps you'll want to try to get it built, using the hints in tools-build.html.


Note that this document has only discussed getting the benchmarks built and running. Presumably at some point you'd like to know whether your system got the correct answer. At that point, you can use specdiff, which is explained in utility.html.

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