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Cycle-Accurate Performance Modelling in an Ultra-Fast Just-In-Time Dynamic Binary Translation Instruction Set Simulator

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalTransactions on High Performance and Embedded Architecture and Compilation
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2011


Instruction set simulators(ISS) are vital tools for compiler and processor architecture design space exploration and verification. State-of-the-art simulators using just-in-time (JIT) dynamic binary translation (DBT) techniques are able to simulate complex embedded processors at speeds above 500 MIPS. However, these functional ISS do not provide microarchitectural observability. In contrast, low-level cycle-accurate ISS are too slow to simulate full-scale applications, forcing developers to revert to FPGA-based simulations. In this paper we demonstrate that it is possible to run ultra-high speed cycle-accurate instruction set simulations surpassing FPGA-based simulation speeds. We extend the JIT DBT engine of our ISS and augment JIT generated code with a verified cycle-accurate processor model. Our approach can model any microarchitectural configuration, does not rely on prior profiling, instrumentation, or compilation, and works for all binaries targeting a state-of-the-art embedded processor implementing the ARCompact instruction set architecture (ISA). We achieve simulation speeds up to 88 MIPS on a standard x86 desktop computer for the industry standard EEMBC, COREMARK and BIOPERF benchmark suites.

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