Sim-D: A SIMD Accelerator for Hard Real-Time Systems

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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 our work on Sim-D, a clean-slate approach to designing a real-time data-parallel architecture. Sim-D enforces a predictable execution model by isolating compute- and access resources in hardware. The DRAM controller uninterruptedly transfers tiles of data, requested by entire work-groups. This permits work-groups to be executed as a sequence of deterministic access- and compute phases, scheduling phases from up to two work-groups in parallel. Evaluation using a cycle-accurate timing model shows that Sim-D can achieve performance on par with an embedded-grade NVIDIA TK1 GPU under two conditions: applications refrain from using indirect DRAM transfers into large buffers, and Sim-D’s scratchpads provide sufficient bandwidth. Sim-D’s design facilitates derivation of safe WCET bounds that are tight within 12.7% on average, at an additional average performance penalty of ~9.2% caused by scheduling restrictions on phases.

Real-time and embedded systems, parallel architectures
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IEEE Transactions on Computers
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Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
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