IEEE Transactions on Computers

IEEE Transactions on Computers (TC) is a monthly publication that publishes research in such areas as computer organizations and architectures, digital devices, operating systems, and new and important applications and trends.

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From the June 2018 issue

Analytic Multi-Core Processor Model for Fast Design-Space Exploration

By Rik Jongerius, Andreea Anghel, Gero Dittmann, Giovanni Mariani, Erik Vermij, and Henk Corporaal

Featured article thumbnail image Simulators help computer architects optimize system designs. The limited performance of simulators even of moderate size and detail makes the approach infeasible for design-space exploration of future exascale systems. Analytic models, in contrast, offer very fast turn-around times. In this paper we propose an analytic multi-core processor-performance model that takes as inputs a) a parametric microarchitecture-independent characterization of the target workload, and b) a hardware configuration of the core and the memory hierarchy. The processor-performance model considers instruction-level parallelism (ILP) per type, models single instruction, multiple data (SIMD) features, and considers cache and memory-bandwidth contention between cores. We validate our model by comparing its performance estimates with measurements from hardware performance counters on Intel Xeon and ARM Cortex-A15 systems. We estimate multi-core contention with a maximum error of 11.4 percent. The average single-thread error increases from 25 percent for a state-of-the-art simulator to 59 percent for our model, but the correlation is still 0.8, a high relative accuracy, while we achieve a speedup of several orders of magnitude. With a much higher capacity than simulators and more reliable insights than back-of-the-envelope calculations it makes automated design-space exploration of exascale systems possible, which we show using a real-world case study from radio astronomy.

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