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Using advanced compiler technology to exploit the performance of the Cell Broadband Engine™ architecture

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17 Author(s)
Eichenberger, A.E. ; IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, P.O. Box 218, Yorktown Heights, New York 10598, USA ; O'Brien, J.K. ; O'Brien, K.M. ; Wu, P.
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The continuing importance of game applications and other numerically intensive workloads has generated an upsurge in novel computer architectures tailored for such functionality. Game applications feature highly parallel code for functions such as game physics, which have high computation and memory requirements, and scalar code for functions such as game artificial intelligence, for which fast response times and a full-featured programming environment are critical. The Cell Broadband Engine™ architecture targets such applications, providing both flexibility and high performance by utilizing a 64-bit multithreaded PowerPC® processor element (PPE) with two levels of globally coherent cache and eight synergistic processor elements (SPEs), each consisting of a processor designed for streaming workloads, a local memory, and a globally coherent DMA (direct memory access) engine. Growth in processor complexity is driving a parallel need for sophisticated compiler technology. In this paper, we present a variety of compiler techniques designed to exploit the performance potential of the SPEs and to enable the multilevel heterogeneous parallelism found in the Cell Broadband Engine architecture. Our goal in developing this compiler has been to enhance programmability while continuing to provide high performance. We review the Cell Broadband Engine architecture and present the results of our compiler techniques, including SPE optimization, automatic code generation, single source parallelization, and partitioning.

Note: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Incorporated is distributing this Article with permission of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) who is the exclusive owner. The recipient of this Article may not assign, sublicense, lease, rent or otherwise transfer, reproduce, prepare derivative works, publicly display or perform, or distribute the Article.  

Published in:

IBM Systems Journal  (Volume:45 ,  Issue: 1 )