Analysis of Software and Hardware-Accelerated Approaches to the Simulation of Unconventional Interconnection Networks

Simulation Modelling Practice and Theory(2020)

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The design of new computer architectures relies heavily on simulation. New architectures that incorporate unconventional features or novel designs can not usually use established simulators and, therefore, designers have to adapt an existing one or develop their own from scratch. Traditionally, software-based simulators have been the main platform for architectural exploration. However, the introduction of high-level hardware description languages, such as Bluespec, together with improvements in reconfigurable hardware platforms, provides an opportunity to challenge the traditional notion and consider hardware-accelerated simulators for this purpose. This paper presents a comprehensive analysis of three simulators, a hardware-accelerated one, a high-fidelity software-based one and a mature, generic software one, each of them developed to evaluate different aspects of a novel, unconventional architecture: the SpiNNaker massively-parallel computer. The analysis includes a discussion of the different modelling and implementation trade-offs and a comparison with the real system.
Simulation and modelling,Interconnection networks,Large-scale systems,FPGA prototyping,Network topologies and routing
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