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Performance Impact of Unaligned Memory Operations in SIMD Extensions for Video Codec Applications

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4 Author(s)
Mauricio Alvarez ; Department of Computer Architecture. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Spain, European Network of Excellence on High-Performance Embedded Architecture and Compilation, Email: alvarez@ac.upc.edu ; Esther Salami ; Alex Ramirez ; Mateo Valero

Although SIMD extensions are a cost effective way to exploit the data level parallelism present in most media applications, we will show that they had have a very limited memory architecture with a weak support for unaligned memory accesses. In video codec, and other applications, the overhead for accessing unaligned positions without an efficient architecture support has a big performance penalty and in some cases makes vectorization counter-productive. In this paper we analyze the performance impact of extending the Altivec SIMD ISA with unaligned memory operations. Results show that for several kernels in the H.264/AVC media codec, unaligned access support provides a speedup up to 3.8times compared to the plain SIMD version, translating into an average of 1.2times in the entire application. In addition to providing a significant performance advantage, the use of unaligned memory instructions makes programming SIMD code much easier both for the manual developer and the auto vectorizing compiler

Published in:

2007 IEEE International Symposium on Performance Analysis of Systems & Software

Date of Conference:

25-27 April 2007