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WiDGET: Wisconsin Decoupled Grid Execution Tiles

By John D. Davis and David A. Wood


The recent paradigm shift to multi-core systems results in high system throughput within a specified power budget. However, future systems still require good single thread performance—no longer the predominant design priority—to mitigate sequential bottlenecks and/or to guarantee servicelevel agreements. Unfortunately, near saturation in voltage scaling necessitates a long-term alternative to dynamic voltage and frequency scaling. We propose an energy-proportional computing infrastructure, called WiDGET, that decouples thread context management from a sea of simple execution units (EUs). WiDGET’s decoupled design provides flexibility to alter resource allocation for a particular power-performance target while turning off unallocated resources. In other words, WiDGET enables dynamic customization of different combinations of small and/or powerful cores on a single chip, consuming power in proportion to the delivered performance. Over all SPEC CPU2006 benchmarks, WiDGET provides average per-thread performance that is 26 % better than a Xeon-like processor while using 8 % less power. WiDGET can also scale down to a level comparable to an Atom-like processor, turning off resources to reduce average power by 58%. WiDGET achieves high power efficiency (BIPS 3 /W), exceeding Xeon-like and Atom-like processors by up to 2x and 21x, respectively

Topics: Performance, Design, Experimentation Keywords Power proportional computing, power efficiency, hardware, performance, instruction
Year: 2010
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