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Volume 7 / Issue 9

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DOI:   10.3217/jucs-007-09-0848


On Speculation Control in Simultaneous Multithreaded Processors

Ulrich Sigmund (VIONA Development GmbH, Germany)

Theo Ungerer (University of Augsburg, Germany)

Abstract: A simultaneous multithreaded (SMT) processor is able to issue and execute instructions from several threads simultaneously. A SMT processor reaches its highest performance, when all issue slots are utilized by non-speculative instructions provided that the workload is sufficient. SMT processors are able to utilize their resources by executing instructions of multiple threads simultaneously, whereas single-threaded processors fill their resources with highly speculative instructions that must frequently be discarded due to misspeculations. Consequently, we explore speculation control in SMT processor models with the target to increase performance by restricting the number of in-flight speculative instructions. We vary the sizes of internal buffers, the instruction fetch bandwidth, the instruction selection strategies and branch prediction models with the target to increase performance of the simulated SMT processor models. Our results show (1) that retirement buffer sizes of 16 or 32 entries increase performance compared to smaller and to larger buffer sizes, (2) that the instruction fetch bandwidth can be decreased to two times four instructions per cycle without performance loss even for eight threaded eight issue processor models, (3) that an instruction selection strategy that discriminates speculative instructions in the fetch, decode, issue, and dispatch stages may increase overall performance, and (4) that a highly multithreaded processor with a sufficient workload may do without a branch prediction.

Keywords: MPEG-2 video decompression, SMT, multimedia extension, simultaneous multithreading, speculation control

Categories: C.1