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IBM Journal of Research and Development  
Volume 47, Number 5/6, Page 653 (2003)
Power-efficient computer technologies
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New methodology for early-stage, microarchitecture-level power-performance analysis of microprocessors

by D. Brooks, P. Bose, V. Srinivasan, M. K. Gschwind, P. G. Emma, M. G. Rosenfield
The PowerTimer toolset has been developed for use in early-stage, microarchitecture-level power–performance analysis of microprocessors. The key component of the toolset is a parameterized set of energy functions that can be used in conjunction with any given cycle-accurate microarchitectural simulator. The energy functions model the power consumption of primitive and hierarchically composed building blocks which are used in microarchitecture-level performance models. Examples of structures modeled are pipeline stage latches, queues, buffers and component read/write multiplexers, local clock buffers, register files, and cache array macros. The energy functions can be derived using purely analytical equations that are driven by organizational, circuit, and technology parameters or behavioral equations that are derived from empirical, circuit-level simulation experiments. After describing the modeling methodology, we present analysis results in the context of a current-generation superscalar processor simulator to illustrate the use and effectiveness of such early-stage models. In addition to average power and performance tradeoff analysis, PowerTimer is useful in assessing the typical and worst-case power (or current) swings that occur between successive cycle windows in a given workload execution. Such a characterization of workloads at the early stage of microarchitecture definition helps pinpoint potential inductive noise problems on the voltage rail that can be addressed by designing an appropriate package or by suitably tuning the dynamic power management controls within the processor.
Related Subjects: Microprocessor systems and applications; Models and modeling; Optimization; Power management; Simulation