A Compiler Framework to Support and Exploit Heterogeneous Overlapping-ISA Multiprocessor Platforms

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Virginia Tech

As the demand for ever increasingly powerful machines continues, new architectures are sought to be the next route of breaking past the brick wall that currently stagnates the performance growth of modern multi-core CPUs. Due to physical limitations, scaling single-core performance any further is no longer possible, giving rise to modern multi-cores. However, the brick wall is now limiting the scaling of general-purpose multi-cores. Heterogeneous-core CPUs have the potential to continue scaling by reducing power consumption through exploitation of specialized and simple cores within the same chip.

Heterogeneous-core CPUs join fundamentally different processors each which their own peculiar features, i.e., fast execution time, improved power efficiency, etc; enabling the building of versatile computing systems. To make heterogeneous platforms permeate the computer market, the next hurdle to overcome is the ability to provide a familiar programming model and environment such that developers do not have to focus on platform details. Nevertheless, heterogeneous platforms integrate processors with diverse characteristics and potentially a different Instruction Set Architecture (ISA), which exacerbate the complexity of the software. A brave few have begun to tread down the heterogeneous-ISA path, hoping to prove that this avenue will yield the next generation of super computers. However, many unforeseen obstacles have yet to be discovered.

With this new challenge comes the clear need for efficient, developer-friendly, adaptable system software to support the efforts of making heterogeneous-ISA the golden standard for future high-performance and general-purpose computing. To foster rapid development of this technology, it is imperative to put the proper tools into the hands of developers, such as application and architecture profiling engines, in order to realize the best heterogeneous-ISA platform possible with available technology. In addition, it would be in the best interest to create tools to be as "timeless" as possible to expose fundamental concepts industry could benefit from and adopt in future designs.

We demonstrate the feasibility of a compiler framework and runtime for an existing heterogeneous-ISA operating system (Popcorn Linux) for automatically scheduling compute blocks within an application on a given heterogeneous-ISA high-performance platform (in our case a platform built with Intel Xeon - Xeon Phi). With the introduced Profiler, Partitioner, and Runtime support, we prove to be able to automatically exploit the heterogeneity in an overlapping-ISA platform, being faster than native execution and other parallelism programming models.

Empirically evaluating our compiler framework, we show that application execution on Popcorn Linux can be up to 52% faster than the most performant native execution for Xeon or Xeon Phi. Using our compiler framework relieves the developer from manual scheduling and porting of applications, requiring only a single profiling run per application.

Compilers, Heterogeneous Architecture, Performance Profiling, Runtime, Code Transformation, System Software