Popcorn: Bridging the Programmability Gap in Heterogeneous-ISA Platforms

Antonio Barbalace, Marina Sadini, Saif Ansary, Christopher Jelesnianski, Akshay Ravichandran, Cagil Kendir, Alastair Murray, Binoy Ravindran

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

The recent possibility of integrating multiple-OS-capable, high-core-count, heterogeneous-ISA processors in the same platform poses a question: given the tight integration between system components, can a shared memory programming model be adopted, enhancing programmability? If this can be done, an enormous amount of existing code written for shared memory architectures would not have to be rewritten to use a new programming paradigm (e.g., code offloading) that is often very expensive and error prone. We propose a new software architecture that is composed of an operating system and a compiler framework to run ordinary shared memory applications, written for homogeneous machines, on OS-capable heterogeneous-ISA machines. Applications run transparently amongst different ISA processors while exploiting the most optimized instruction set for each code block. We have implemented and tested our system, called Popcorn, on a multi-core Intel Xeon machine with a PCIe Intel Xeon Phi to demonstrate the viability of our approach. Application execution on Popcorn demonstrates tobe up to 52% faster than the most performant native execution on Linux, on either Xeon or Xeon Phi, while removing the burden of the programmer having to adopt a different programming model than shared memory on a heterogeneous system. When compared to an offloading programming model, Popcorn is shown to be up to 6.2 times faster.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Tenth European Conference on Computer Systems
Place of PublicationNew York, NY, USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-3238-5
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2015
EventTenth European Conference on Computer Systems 2015 - Bordeaux, France
Duration: 21 Apr 201524 Apr 2015


ConferenceTenth European Conference on Computer Systems 2015
Abbreviated titleEuroSys 2015
Internet address


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