High-speed performance and power modeling
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The high cost of designing, testing and manufacturing semiconductor chips makes simulation essential to predict performance and power throughout the design cycle of hardware components. However, standard detailed software performance/power simulators are too slow to finish real-life benchmarks within the design cycle. To compensate, reduced accuracy is often traded for improved simulator performance. This dissertation explores the FPGA-Accelerated Simulation Technologies (FAST) methodology that can dramatically improve simulation performance without sacrificing accuracy. Design trade-offs of the functional model partition of a FAST simulator are discussed and QUICK, an implementation of a FAST functional model that is designed to provide fast functional execution as well as the ability to rollback and execute down different paths is described. QUICK is general enough to be useful beyond FPGA-accelerated simulators and provides complex ISA (x86) and full-system support. A complete FAST simulator that combines QUICK with an FPGA-based timing model runs in the millions of x86 instructions per seconds, several orders of magnitude faster than software simulators of comparable accuracy capability, and boots unmodified Windows XP and Linux. Ideally, one could model power at the same speeds as performance modeling in a FAST simulator. However, traditional software-implemented power estimation techniques are very slow. PrEsto, a new power modeling methodology that automatically generates accurate power models that can efficiently fit and operate within FAST simulators, is proposed. Such models can dramatically improve the accuracy and performance of architectural power estimation. Improving high-accuracy simulator performance will open research directions that could not be explored economically in the past. The combination of simulation performance, accuracy, and power estimation capabilities extend the usefulness of such simulators, thus enabling the co-design of architecture, hardware implementation, operating systems, and software.