Dataflow Mini-Graphs: Amplifying Superscalar Capacity and Bandwidth

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Bracy, Anne
Prahlad, Prashant

A mini-graph is a dataflow graph that has an arbitrary internal size and shape but the interface of a singleton instruction: two register inputs, one register output, a maximum of one memory operation, and a maximum of one (terminal) control transfer. Previous work has exploited dataflow sub-graphs whose execution latency can be reduced via programmable FPGA-style hardware. In this paper we show that mini-graphs can improve performance by amplifying the bandwidths of a superscalar processor’s stages and the capacities of many of its structures without custom latency-reduction hardware. Amplification is achieved because the processor deals with a complete mini-graph via a single quasi-instruction, the handle. By constraining mini-graph structure and forcing handles to behave as much like singleton instructions as possible, the number and scope of the modifications over a conventional superscalar microarchitecture is kept to a minimum. This paper describes mini-graphs, a simple algorithm for extracting them from basic block frequency profiles, and a microarchitecture for exploiting them. Cycle-level simulation of several benchmark suites shows that mini-graphs can provide average performance gains of 2–12% over an aggressive baseline, with peak gains exceeding 40%. Alternatively, they can compensate for substantial reductions in register file and scheduler size, and in pipeline bandwidth.

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Copyright 2004 IEEE. Reprinted from Proceedings of the 37th International Symposium on Microarchitecture (MICRO-37’04), pages 18-29. This material is posted here with permission of the IEEE. Such permission of the IEEE does not in any way imply IEEE endorsement of any of the University of Pennsylvania's products or services. Internal or personal use of this material is permitted. However, permission to reprint/republish this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution must be obtained from the IEEE by writing to By choosing to view this document, you agree to all provisions of the copyright laws protecting it.
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