Interval Simulation: Raising the Level of Abstraction in Architectural Simulation

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Davy Genbrugge, Stijn Eyerman and Lieven Eeckhout

Published at the 16th International Symposium on High Performance Computer Architecture (HPCA-16), 2010


Detailed architectural simulators suffer from a long development cycle and extremely long evaluation times. This longstanding problem is further exacerbated in the multicore processor era. Existing solutions address the simulation problem by either sampling the simulated instruction stream or by mapping the simulation models on FPGAs; these approaches achieve substantial simulation speedups while simulating performance in a cycle-accurate manner.

This paper proposes interval simulation which takes a completely different approach: interval simulation raises the level of abstraction and replaces the core-level cycleaccurate simulation model by a mechanistic analytical model. The analytical model estimates core-level performance by analyzing intervals, or the timing between two miss events (branch mispredictions and TLB/cache misses); the miss events are determined through simulation of the memory hierarchy, cache coherence protocol, interconnection network and branch predictor. By raising the level of abstraction, interval simulation reduces both development time and evaluation time.

Our experimental results using the SPEC CPU2000 and PARSEC benchmark suites and the M5 multi-core simulator, show good accuracy up to eight cores (average error of 4.6% and max error of 11% for the multi-threaded fullsystem workloads), while achieving a one order of magnitude simulation speedup compared to cycle-accurate simulation. Moreover, interval simulation is easy to implement: our implementation of the mechanistic analytical model incurs only one thousand lines of code. Its high accuracy, fast simulation speed and ease-of-use make interval simulation a useful complement to the architect’s toolbox for exploring system-level and high-level micro-architecture trade-offs.

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Bibtex entry

  author = {Davy Genbrugge and Stijn Eyerman and Lieven Eeckhout},
  title = {Interval Simulation: Raising the Level of Abstraction in Architectural
  booktitle = {Proceedings of the 16th IEEE International Symposium on High-Performance
	Computer Architecture (HPCA)},
  year = {2010},
  pages = {307--318},
  month = feb