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A SIMD architecture for hard real-time systems



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Spliet, Roy 


Emerging safety-critical systems require high-performance data-parallel architectures and, problematically, ones that can guarantee tight and safe worst-case execution times. Given the complexity of existing architectures like GPUs, it is unlikely that sufficiently accurate models and algorithms for timing analysis will emerge in the foreseeable future. This motivates a clean-slate approach to designing a real-time data-parallel architecture.

In this work I present Sim-D: a wide-SIMD architecture for hard real-time systems. Similar to GPUs, Sim-D performs hardware strip-mining to schedule the work for a compute kernel in entities called work-groups. Sim-D schedules the work for each work-group as a sequence of uninterruptible access- and execute program phases, interleaving the phases of two work-groups. By providing performance isolation between the memory- and compute resources, the execution time of each phase can be tightly bound through static analysis.

I present a predictable closed-page DRAM controller that processes requests for large 1D- and 2D blocks of data, as well as indirect indexed transfers. These large transfers coalesce the data requests of a whole work-group. For a linear 4KiB transfer over a 64-bit data bus, the utilisation provably exceeds 78% for DDR4-3200AA DRAM. For 2D blocks, a well-chosen tiling configuration can achieve near-similar efficiency. I show that bounds on the execution time of indexed transfers are pessimistic by nature, but propose a novel snoopy indexed transfer mechanism that permits more reasonable bounds when the buffer size is limited.

Finally, I present a worst-case execution time calculation algorithm for Sim-D. This algorithm is paired with two hardware work-group scheduling policies that deterministically reduce run-time variance. The worst-case execution time analysis algorithm combines static control flow analysis with a simulation-based cost model for execution and DRAM transfers. Its key novelty is the addition of a stage that considers work-group scheduling effects. I show that the work-group scheduling policies degrade performance on average by 8.9%, but permit the calculation of worst-case execution time bounds that are tight within 14.3% on average for benchmarks that avoid inefficient indexed transfers.





Mullins, Robert
Moore, Simon


Computer Architecture, Real-Time Systems


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge