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PhD Defense: Optimizing Many-Threads-to-Many-Cores Mapping in Parallel Electronic System Level Simulation

Name: Guantao Liu

Date: March 2, 2017

Time: 4:00 PM

Location: Engineering Hall 3206

Committee: Rainer Doemer (Chair), Kwei-Jay Lin, Mohammad Al Faruque


In hardware/software co-design, Discrete Event Simulation (DES) has been in use for decades to verify and validate the functionality of Electronic System Level (ESL) models. Since the parallel computing platforms are readily available today, many Parallel Discrete Event Simulation (PDES) approaches are proposed to improve the simulation performance. However, as the thread parallelism increases in ESL designs and core count multiplies on multi-core and many-core platforms, thread-to-core mapping becomes critical in PDES.

In this dissertation, we propose a computation- and communication-aware approach to optimize thread mapping for parallel ESL simulation, with the aims of load balancing and communication minimization. As we identify that the order of dispatching parallel threads has a significant influence on the total simulation time, and Longest Job First (LJF) shows better performance than the Linux default thread dispatch policy, we first propose a segment- aware LJF scheduler for PDES. Our segment-aware scheduler can accurately predict the run time of the thread segments ahead, and thus make better dispatching decisions. Next, we define the concept of core distance for multi-core and many-core architectures, which quantifies core-to-core communication latency and characterizes processor hierarchies. For many-core architectures using directory-based cache coherence protocols, we observe that core-to-core transfers are not always significantly faster than main memory accesses, and the core-to-core communication latency depends not only on the physical placement on the chip, but also on the location of the distributed cache tag directory. Thus, using a memory ping-pong benchmark, we quantify the core distance on a ring-network many-core platform and propose an algorithm to optimize thread-to-core mapping in order to minimize on-chip communication overhead. Altogether, based on a static analysis of communication patterns and core distance and a dynamic profiling of computation load, our proposed framework utilizes a heuristic graph partitioning algorithm and automatically generates an optimized thread mapping, which minimizes inter-chip communication overhead. In our systematic evaluation, our approach consistently shows a significant performance gain on top of the order-of-magnitude speedup of PDES.

The contributions of this dissertation include a segment-aware multi-core scheduler, core distance profiling, a communication-aware thread mapping framework, together with an open-source software package for Out-of-Order PDES.