Hardware acceleration in the form of customized datapath and control circuitry tuned to specific applications has gained popularity for its promise to utilize transistors more efficiently. Historically, the computer architecture community has focused on general-purpose processors and extensive research infrastructure has been developed to support research efforts in this domain, such as power-performance modeling and workload characterization. Envisioning future heterogeneous, accelerator-centric computing systems with a diverse set of general-purpose cores and accelerators, researchers must add a set of new accelerator-centric research infrastructures to their toolboxes.
In this tutorial, we discuss state-of-the-art research infrastructures available for accelerator research ranging from power-performance simulation to hardware prototyping. We start the tutorial with Aladdin, a Pre-RTL, power-performance simulator for fixed-function accelerators to help computer architects explore the design space of accelerators. We further introduce a complementary system-level simulation framework: gem5-Aladdin, an integration of Aladdin and gem5, to study interactions between accelerators and the rest of the system. Finally, we will demonstrate the capabilities of the Zynq Zedboard platform, which combines a general-purpose ARM core with an FPGA over a coherent interconnect. Hands-on exercises and demo will be included to show how to use these tools to address different research questions.
Prof. David Brooks,
Harvard University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Yakun Sophia Shao, NVIDIA Research (email@example.com)
Prof. Gu-Yeon Wei, Harvard University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sam Xi, Harvard University (email@example.com)
Aladdin: A pre-RTL, power-performance-area simulator for accelerators.
gem5-Aladdin: an Integrated Architecture-level SoC Simulator.
LLVM-Tracer: An LLVM optimization pass to print a dynamic LLVM IR trace.
MachSuite: A benchmark suite for accelerators.
WIICA: An ISA-independent workload characterization tool for accelerators.