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  4. null (Ed.)
    The design of computing systems has changed dramatically over the past decade, but most courses in advanced computer architecture remain unchanged. Computer architecture education lies at the intersection between computer science and electrical engineering, with practical exercises in classes based on appropriate levels of abstraction in the computing system design stack. Hardware-centric lab exercises often require broad infrastructure resources and tend to navigate around tedious practical implementation concepts, while software-centric exercises leave a gap between modeling and system implementation implications that students later need to overcome in professional settings. Vertical integration trends in domain-specific compute systems, as well as software-hardware co-design, are often covered in classroom lectures, but are not reflected in laboratory exercises due to complex tooling and simulation infrastructure. We describe our experiences with a joint hardware-software approach to exploring computer architecture concepts in class exercises, by using opensource processor hardware implementations, generator-based hardware design methodologies, and cloud-hosted FPGAs. This approach further enables scaling course enrollment, remote learning and a cross-class collaborative lab ecosystem, creating a connecting thread between computer science and electrical engineering experience-based curricula. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
    We present COBRA, a framework which enables a realistic hardware-guided methodology for evaluating compositions of hardware branch predictors. COBRA provides a common interface for developing RTL implementations of predictor subcomponents, as well as a predictor composer that automatically generates hardware predictor pipelines from sub-components based on a high-level topological model of a desired algorithm. We demonstrate how COBRA aids in the design and evaluation of diverse predictor architectures and how our hardware-centric approach captures concerns in predictor characterization that are not exposed in software-based algorithm development. Using COBRA, we generate three superscalar pipelined branch predictors with diverse architectures, synthesize them to run at 1 GHz on a commercial FinFET process, integrate them with the open-source BOOM out-of-order core, and evaluate their endto- end performance on workloads over trillions of cycles. The COBRA generator system has been open-sourced as part of the SonicBOOM out-of-order core. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
    One of the key challenges arising when compilers vectorize loops for today’s SIMD-compatible architectures is to decide if vectorization or interleaving is beneficial. Then, the compiler has to determine the number of instructions to pack together and the interleaving level (stride). Compilers are designed today to use fixed-cost models that are based on heuristics to make vectorization decisions on loops. However, these models are unable to capture the data dependency, the computation graph, or the organization of instructions. Alternatively, software engineers often hand-write the vectorization factors of every loop. This, however, places a huge burden on them, since it requires prior experience and significantly increases the development time. In this work, we explore a novel approach for handling loop vectorization and propose an end-to-end solution using deep reinforcement learning (RL). We conjecture that deep RL can capture different instructions, dependencies, and data structures to enable learning a sophisticated model that can better predict the actual performance cost and determine the optimal vectorization factors. We develop an end-to-end framework, from code to vectorization, that integrates deep RL in the LLVM compiler. Our proposed framework takes benchmark codes as input and extracts the loop codes. These loop codes are then fed to a loop embedding generator that learns an embedding for these loops. Finally, the learned embeddings are used as input to a Deep RL agent, which dynamically determines the vectorization factors for all the loops. We further extend our framework to support random search, decision trees, supervised neural networks, and nearest-neighbor search. We evaluate our approaches against the currently used LLVM vectorizer and loop polyhedral optimization techniques. Our experiments show 1.29×−4.73× performance speedup compared to baseline and only 3% worse than the brute-force search on a wide range of benchmarks. 
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  7. null (Ed.)
    Network function virtualization (NFV) technologyattracts tremendous interests from telecommunication industryand data center operators, as it allows service providers to assignresource for Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) on demand,achieving better flexibility, programmability, and scalability. Toimprove server utilization, one popular practice is to deploy besteffort (BE) workloads along with high priority (HP) VNFs whenhigh priority VNF’s resource usage is detected to be low. The keychallenge of this deployment scheme is to dynamically balancethe Service level objective (SLO) and the total cost of ownership(TCO) to optimize the data center efficiency under inherentlyfluctuating workloads. With the recent advancement in deepreinforcement learning, we conjecture that it has the potential tosolve this challenge by adaptively adjusting resource allocationto reach the improved performance and higher server utilization.In this paper, we present a closed-loop automation systemRLDRM1to dynamically adjust Last Level Cache allocationbetween HP VNFs and BE workloads using deep reinforcementlearning. The results demonstrate improved server utilizationwhile maintaining required SLO for the HP VNFs. 
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  8. We present FireSim, an open-source simulation platform that enables cycle-exact microarchitectural simulation of large scale-out clusters by combining FPGA-accelerated simulation of silicon-proven RTL designs with a scalable, distributed network simulation. Unlike prior FPGA-accelerated simulation tools, FireSim runs on Amazon EC2 F1, a public cloud FPGA platform, which greatly improves usability, provides elasticity, and lowers the cost of large-scale FPGA-based experiments. We describe the design and implementation of FireSim and show how it can provide sufficient performance to run modern applications at scale, to enable true hardware-software co-design. As an example, we demonstrate automatically generating and deploying a target cluster of 1,024 3.2 GHz quad-core server nodes, each with 16 GB of DRAM, interconnected by a 200 Gbit/s network with 2 microsecond latency, which simulates at a 3.4 MHz processor clock rate (less than 1,000x slowdown over real-time). In aggregate, this FireSim instantiation simulates 4,096 cores and 16 TB of memory, runs ~ 14 billion instructions per second, and harnesses 12.8 million dollars worth of FPGAs-at a total cost of only ~ $100 per simulation hour to the user. We present several examples to show how FireSim can be used to explore various research directions in warehouse-scale machine design, including modeling networks with high-bandwidth and low-latency, integrating arbitrary RTL designs for a variety of commodity and specialized datacenter nodes, and modeling a variety of datacenter organizations, as well as reusing the scale-out FireSim infrastructure to enable fast, massively parallel cycle-exact single-node microarchitectural experimentation. 
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