The semiconductor industry is facing a critical research challenge: design future high performance and energy efficient systems while satisfying historical standards for reliability and lower costs. The primary cause of this challenge is device and circuit parameter variability, which results from the manufacturing process and system operation. As technology scales, the adverse impact of these variations on system-level metrics increases. In this paper, we describe an interdisciplinary effort toward robust and resilient designs that mitigate the effects of device and circuit parameter variations in order to enhance system performance, energy efficiency, and reliability. Collaboration between the technology, CAD, circuit, and system levels of the compute hierarchy can foster the development of cost-effective and efficient solutions.
As cloud and utility computing spreads, computer architects must ensure continued capability growth for the data centers that comprise the cloud. Given megawatt scale power budgets, increasing data center capability requires increasing computing hardware energy efficiency. To increase the data center’s capability for work, the work done per Joule must increase. We pursue this efficiency even as the nature of data center applications evolves. Unlike traditional enterprise workloads, which are typically memory or I/O bound, big data computation and analytics exhibit greater compute intensity. This article examines the efficiency of mobile processors as a means for data center capability. In particular, we compare and contrast the performance and efficiency of the Microsoft Bing search engine executing on the mobile-class Atom processor and the server-class Xeon processor. Bing implements statistical machine learning to dynamically rank pages, producing sophisticated search results but also increasing computational intensity. While mobile processors are energy-efficient, they exact a price for that efficiency. The Atom is 5× more energy-efficient than the Xeon when comparing queries per Joule. However, search queries on Atom encounter higher latencies, different page results, and diminished robustness for complex queries. Despite these challenges, quality-of-service is maintained for most, common queries. Moreover, as different computational phases of the search engine encounter different bottlenecks, we describe implications for future architectural enhancements, application tuning, and system architectures. After optimizing the Atom server platform, a large share of power and cost go toward processor capability. With optimized Atoms, more servers can fit in a given data center power budget. For a data center with 15MW critical load, Atom-based servers increase capability by 3.2× for Bing.
More than 20% of the available energy is lost in “the last centimeter” from the PCB board to the microprocessor chip due to inherent inefficiencies of power delivery subsystems (PDSs) in today’s computing systems. By series-stacking multiple voltage domains to eliminate explicit voltage conversion and reduce loss along the power delivery path, voltage stacking (VS) is a novel configuration that can improve power delivery efficiency (PDE). However, VS suffers from aggravated levels of supply noise caused by current imbalance between the stacking layers, preventing its practical adoption in mainstream computing systems. Throughput-centric manycore architectures such as GPUs intrinsically exhibit more balanced workloads, yet suffer from lower PDE, making them ideal platforms to implement voltage stacking. In this paper, we present a cross-layer approach to practical voltage stacking implementation in GPUs. It combines circuit-level voltage regulation using distributed charge-recycling integrated voltage regulators (CR-IVRs) with architecture-level voltage smoothing guided by control theory. Our proposed voltage-stacked GPUs can eliminate 61.5% of total PDS energy loss and achieve 92.3% system-level power delivery efficiency, a 12.3% improvement over the conventional single-layer based PDS. Compared to the circuit-only solution, the cross-layer approach significantly reduces the implementation cost of voltage stacking (88% reduction in area overhead) without compromising supply reliability under worst-case scenarios and across a wide range of real-world benchmarks. In addition, we demonstrate that the cross-layer solution not only complements on-chip CR-IVRs to transparently manage current imbalance and restore stable layer voltages, but also serves as a seamless interface to accommodate higher-level power optimization techniques, traditionally thought to be incompatible with a VS configuration.
The commoditization of hardware, data center economies of scale, and Internet-scale workload growth all demand greater power efficiency to sustain scalability. Traditional enterprise workloads, which are typically memory and I/O bound, have been well served by chip multiprocessors comprising of small, power-efficient cores. Recent advances in mobile computing have led to modern small cores capable of delivering even better power efficiency. While these cores can deliver performance-per-Watt efficiency for data center workloads, small cores impact application quality-of-service robustness, and flexibility, as these workloads increasingly invoke computationally intensive kernels. These challenges constitute the price of efficiency. We quantify efficiency for an industry-strength online web search engine in production at both the microarchitecture- and system-level, evaluating search on server and mobile-class architectures using Xeon and Atom processors.
Categories and Subject Descriptors
C.0 [Computer Systems Organization]: General—System architectures; C.4 [Computer Systems Organization]: Performance of Systems—Design studies, Reliability, availability, and serviceability
Supply voltage fluctuations that result from inductive noise are increasingly troublesome in modern microprocessors. A voltage “emergency”, i.e., a swing beyond tolerable operating margins, jeopardizes the safe and correct operation of the processor. Techniques aimed at reducing power consumption, e.g., by clock gating or by reducing nominal supply voltage, exacerbate this noise problem, requiring ever-wider operating margins. We propose an event-guided, adaptive method for avoiding voltage emergencies, which exploits the fact that most emergencies are correlated with unique microarchitectural events, such as cache misses or the pipeline flushes that follow branch mispredictions. Using checkpoint and rollback to handle unavoidable emergencies, our method adapts dynamically by learning to trigger avoidance mechanisms when emergency-prone events recur. After tightening supply voltage margins to increase clock frequency and accounting for all costs, the net result is a performance improvement of 8% across a suite of fifteen SPEC CPU2000 benchmarks.
Power constrained designs are becoming increasingly sensitive to supply voltage noise. We propose a hardware-software collaborative approach to enable aggressive operating margins: a checkpoint-recovery mechanism corrects margin violations, while a run-time software layer reschedules the program’s instruction stream to prevent recurring margin crossings at the same program location. The run-time layer removes 60% of these events with minimal overhead, thereby significantly improving overall performance.
Categories and Subject Descriptors
C.0 [Computer Systems Organization]: General— Hardware/Software interfaces and System architectures.
Inductive noise forces microprocessor designers to sacrifice performance in order to ensure correct and reliable operation of their designs. The possibility of wide fluctuations in supply voltage means that timing margins throughout the processor must be set pessimistically to protect against worst-case droops and surges. While sensor-based reactive schemes have been proposed to deal with voltage noise, inherent sensor delays limit their effectiveness. Instead, this paper describes a voltage emergency predictor that learns the signatures of voltage emergencies (the combinations of control flow and microarchitectural events leading up to them) and uses these signatures to prevent recurrence of the corresponding emergencies. In simulations of a representative superscalar microprocessor in which fluctuations beyond 4% of nominal voltage are treated as emergencies (an aggressive configuration), these signatures can pinpoint the likelihood of an emergency some 16 cycles ahead of time with 90% accuracy. This lead time allows machines to operate with much tighter voltage margins (4% instead of 13%) and up to 13.5% higher performance, which closely approaches the 14.2% performance improvement possible with an ideal oracle-based predictor.
Power constrained designs are becoming increasingly sensitive to supply voltage noise. We propose hardware-software collaboration to enable aggressive voltage margins: a fail-safe hardware mechanism tolerates margin violations in order to train a run-time software layer that reschedules instructions to avoid recurring violations. Additionally, the software controls an emergency signature-based predictor that throttles to suppress emergencies that code rescheduling cannot eliminate.
Run-time compilation systems are challenged with the task of translating a program’s instruction stream while maintaining low overhead. While software managed code caches are utilized to amortize translation costs, they are ineffective for programs with short run times or large amounts of cold code. Such program characteristics are prevalent in real-life computing environments, ranging from Graphical User Interface (GUI) programs to large-scale applications such as database management systems. Persistent code caching addresses these issues. It is described and evaluated in an industry-strength dynamic binary instrumentation system – Pin. The proposed approach improves the intra-execution model of code reuse by storing and reusing translations across executions, thereby achieving inter-execution persistence. Dynamically linked programs leverage inter-application persistence by using persistent translations of library code generated by other programs. New translations discovered across executions are automatically accumulated into the persistent code caches, thereby improving performance over time. Inter-execution persistence improves the performance of GUI applications by nearly 90%, while inter-application persistence achieves a 59% improvement. In more specialized uses, the SPEC2K INT benchmark suite experiences a 26% improvement under dynamic binary instrumentation. Finally, a 400% speedup is achieved in translating the Oracle database in a regression testing environment.
In profiling, a tradeoff exists between information and overhead. For example, hardware-sampling profilers incur negligible overhead, but the information they collect is consequently very coarse. Other profilers use instrumentation tools to gather temporal traces such as path profiles and hot memory streams, but they have high overhead. Runtime and feedback-directed compilation systems need detailed information to aggressively optimize, but the cost of gathering profiles can outweigh the benefits. Shadow profiling is a novel method for sampling long traces of instrumented code in parallel with normal execution, taking advantage of the trend of increasing numbers of cores. Each instrumented sample can be many millions of instructions in length. The primary goal is to incur negligible overhead, yet attain profile information that is nearly as accurate as a perfect profile.
The profiler requires no modifications to the operating system or hardware, and is tunable to allow for greater coverage or lower overhead. We evaluate the performance and accuracy of this new profiling technique for two common types of instrumentation-based profiles: interprocedural path profiling and value profiling. Overall, profiles collected using the shadow profiling framework are 94% accurate versus perfect value profiles, while incurring less than 1% overhead. Consequently, this technique increases the viability of dynamic and continuous optimization systems by hiding the high overhead of instrumentation and enabling the online collection of many types of profiles that were previously too costly.
Transient faults are emerging as a critical concern in the reliability of general-purpose microprocessors. As architectural trends point towards multi-threaded multi-core designs, there is substantial interest in adapting such parallel hardware resources for transient fault tolerance. This paper proposes a software-based multi-core alternative for transient fault tolerance using process-level redundancy (PLR). PLR creates a set of redundant processes per application process and systematically compares the processes to guarantee correct execution. Redundancy at the process level allows the operating system to freely schedule the processes across all available hardware resources. PLR’s softwarecentric approach to transient fault tolerance shifts the focus from ensuring correct hardware execution to ensuring correct software execution. As a result, PLR ignores many benign faults that do not propagate to affect program correctness. A real PLR prototype for running single-threaded applications is presented and evaluated for fault coverage and performance. On a 4-way SMP machine, PLR provides improved performance over existing software transient fault tolerance techniques with 16.9% overhead for fault detection on a set of optimized SPEC2000 binaries.
Code coverage analysis, the process of finding code exercised by a particular set of test inputs, is an important component of software development and verification. Most traditional methods of implementing code coverage analysis tools are based on program instrumentation. These methods typically incur high overhead due to the insertion and execution of instrumentation code, and are not deployable in many software environments. Hardware-based sampling techniques attempt to lower overhead by leveraging existing Hardware Performance Monitoring (HPM) support for program counter (PC) sampling. While PC-sampling incurs lower levels of overhead, it does not provide complete coverage information. This paper extends the HPM approach in two ways. First, it utilizes the sampling of branch vectors which are supported on modern processors. Second, compiler analysis is performed on branch vectors to extend the amount of code coverage information derived from each sample. This paper shows that although HPM is generally used to guide performance improvement efforts, there is substantial promise in leveraging the HPM information for code debugging and verification. The combination of sampled branch vectors and compiler analysis can be used to attain upwards of 80% of the actual code coverage.
Dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS) is an effective technique for controlling microprocessor energy and performance. Existing DVFS techniques are primarily based on hardware, OS timeinterrupts, or static-compiler techniques. However, substantially greater gains can be realized when control opportunities are also explored in a dynamic compilation environment. There are several advantages to deploying DVFS and managing energy/performance tradeoffs through the use of a dynamic compiler. Most importantly, dynamic compiler driven DVFS is fine-grained, code-aware, and adaptive to the current microarchitecture environment. This paper presents a design framework of the run-time DVFS optimizer in a general dynamic compilation system. A prototype of the DVFS optimizer isimplemented and integrated into an industrialstrength dynamic compilation system. The obtained optimization system is deployed in a real hardware platform that directly measures CPU voltage and current for accurate power and energy readings. Experimental results, based on physical measurements for over 40 SPEC or Olden benchmarks, show that significant energy savings are achieved with little performance degradation. SPEC2K FP benchmarks benefit with energy savings of up to 70% (with 0.5% performance loss). In addition, SPEC2K INT show up to 44% energy savings (with 5% performance loss), SPEC95 FP save up to 64% (with 4.9% performance loss), and Olden save up to 61% (with 4.5% performance loss). On average, the technique leads to an energy delay product (EDP) improvement that is 3X-5X better than static voltage scaling, and is more than 2X (22% vs. 9%) better than the reported DVFS results of prior static compiler work. While the proposed technique is an effective method for microprocessor voltage and frequency control, the design framework and methodology described in this paper have broader potential to address other energy and power issues such as di/dt and thermal control.
Future computer systems will integrate tens of multithreaded processor cores on a single chip die, resulting in hundreds of concurrent program threads sharing system resources. These designs will be the cornerstone of improving throughput in high-performance computing and server environments. However, to date, appropriate systems software (operating system, run-time system, and compiler) technologies for these emerging machines have not been adequately explored. Future processors will require sophisticated hardware monitoring units to continuously feed back resource utilization information to allow the operating system to make optimal thread co-scheduling decisions and also to software that continuously optimizes the program itself. Nevertheless, in order to continually and automatically adapt systems resources to program behaviors and application needs, specific run-time information must be collected to adequately enable dynamic code optimization and operating system scheduling. Generally, run-time optimization is limited by the time required to collect profiles, the time required to perform optimization, and the inherent benefits of any optimization or decisions. Initial techniques for effectively utilizing runtime information for dynamic optimization and informed thread scheduling in future multithreaded architectures are presented.
Robust and powerful software instrumentation tools are essential for program analysis tasks such as profiling, performance evaluation, and bug detection. To meet this need, we have developed a new instrumentation system called Pin. Our goals are to provide easy-to-use, portable, transparent, and efficient instrumentation. Instrumentation tools (called Pintools) are written in C/C++ using Pin’s rich API. Pin follows the model of ATOM, allowing the tool writer to analyze an application at the instruction level without the need for detailed knowledge of the underlying instruction set. The API is designed to be architecture independent whenever possible, making Pintools source compatible across different architectures. However, a Pintool can access architecture-specific details when necessary. Instrumentation with Pin is mostly transparent as the application and Pintool observe the application’s original, uninstrumented behavior. Pin uses dynamic compilation to instrument executables while they are running. For efficiency, Pin uses several techniques, including inlining, register re-allocation, liveness analysis, and instruction scheduling to optimize instrumentation. This fully automated approach delivers significantly better instrumentation performance than similar tools. For example, Pin is 3.3x faster than Valgrind and 2x faster than DynamoRIO for basic-block counting. To illustrate Pin’s versatility, we describe two Pintools in daily use to analyze production software. Pin is publicly available for Linux platforms on four architectures: IA32 (32-bit x86), EM64T (64-bit x86), ItaniumR , and ARM. In the ten months since Pin 2 was released in July 2004, there have been over 3000 downloads from its website.
Categories and Subject Descriptors
D.2.5 [Software Engineering]: Testing and Debugging-code inspections and walk-throughs, debugging aids, tracing; D.3.4 [Programming Languages]: Processorscompilers, incremental compilers
Languages, Performance, Experimentation
Instrumentation, program analysis tools, dynamic compilation
Hypercube structures are heavily used by parallel algorithms that require all-to-all communication. When communicating over a heterogeneous and irregular network, the performance obtained by the hypercube structure will depend on the matching of the hypercube structure to the topology of the underlying network. In this paper, we present strategies to build topology-based hypercubes structures. These strategies do not assume any kind of topology. They take into account the communication cost between pair of nodes to provide a performance-efficient hypercube structure. These enhanced hypercube structures help improve the performance of parallel applications that require all-to-all communication in heterogeneous networks by up to ~30%.