Basic Block Distribution Analysis to Find Periodic Behavior and Simulation Points in Applications

Timothy Sherwood, Erez Perelman, and Brad Calder

International Conference on Parallel Architectures and Compilation Techniques, September 2001.


Modern architecture research relies heavily on detailed pipeline simulation. Simulating the full execution of an industry standard benchmark can take weeks to months to complete. To overcome this problem researchers choose a very small portion of a program's execution to evaluate their results, rather than simulating the entire program.

In this paper we propose Basic Block Distribution Analysis as an automated approach for finding these small portions of the program to simulate that are representative of the entire program's execution. This approach is based upon using profiles of a program's code structure (basic blocks) to uniquely identify different phases of execution in the program. We show that the periodicity of the basic block frequency profile reflects the periodicity of detailed simulation across several different architectural metrics (e.g., IPC, branch miss rate, cache miss rate, value misprediction, address misprediction, and reorder buffer occupancy). Since basic block frequencies can be collected using very fast profiling tools, our approach provides a practical technique for finding the periodicity and simulation points in applications.