Optimizing Lossy Compression Rate-Distortion from Automatic Online Selection between SZ and ZFP


With ever-increasing volumes of scientific data produced by high-performance computing applications, significantly reducing data size is critical because of limited capacity of storage space and potential bottlenecks on I/O or networks in writing/reading or transferring data. SZ and ZFP are two leading BSD licensed open source C/C++ libraries for compressed floating-point arrays that support high throughput read and write random access. However, their performance is not consistent across different data sets and across different fields of some data sets, which raises the need for an automatic online (during compression) selection between SZ and ZFP, with minimal overhead. In this paper, the automatic selection optimizes the rate-distortion, an important statistical quality metric based on the signal-to-noise ratio. To optimize for rate-distortion, we investigate the principles of SZ and ZFP. We then propose an efficient online, low-overhead selection algorithm that predicts the compression quality accurately for two compressors in early processing stages and selects the best-fit compressor for each data field. We implement the selection algorithm into an open-source library, and we evaluate the effectiveness of our proposed solution against plain SZ and ZFP in a parallel environment with 1,024 cores. Evaluation results on three data sets representing about 100 fields show that our selection algorithm improves the compression ratio up to 70 percent with the same level of data distortion because of very accurate selection (around 99 percent) of the bestfit compressor, with little overhead (less than 7 percent in the experiments).


Computer Science


This research was supported by the Exascale Computing Project (ECP), Project Number: 17-SC-20-SC.

Keywords and Phrases

Compression Ratio; High-Performance Computing; Lossy Compression; Rate-Distortion; Scientific Data

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1045-9219; 1558-2183

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2019 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Aug 2019