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Environment for PowerPC microarchitecture exploration

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3 Author(s)
Moudgill, M. ; IBM Thomas J. Watson Res. Center, Yorktown Heights, NY, USA ; Wellman, J.-D. ; Moreno, J.H.

Designers face many choices when planning a new high-performance, general purpose microprocessor. Options include superscalar organization (the ability to dispatch and execute more than one instruction at a time), out-of-order issue of instructions, speculative execution, branch prediction, and cache hierarchy. However, the interaction of multiple microarchitecture features is often counterintuitive, raising questions concerning potential performance benefits and other effects on various workloads. Complex design trade-offs require accurate and timely performance modeling, which in turn requires flexible, efficient environments for exploring microarchitecture processor performance. Workload-driven simulation models are essential for microprocessor design space exploration. A processor model must ideally: capture in sufficient detail those features that are already well defined; make evolving assumptions and approximations in interpreting the desired execution semantics for those features that are not yet well defined; and be validated against the existing specification. These requirements suggest the need for an evolving but reasonably precise specification, so that validating against such a specification provides confidence in the results. Processor model validation normally relies on behavioral timing specifications based on test cases that exercise the microarchitecture. This approach, commonly used in simulation-based functional validation methods, is also useful for performance validation. In this article, we describe a workload driven simulation environment for PowerPC processor microarchitecture performance exploration. We summarize the environment's properties and give examples of its usage

Published in:

Micro, IEEE  (Volume:19 ,  Issue: 3 )

Date of Publication:

May/Jun 1999

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