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  4. Process technology scaling and hardware architecture specialization have vastly increased the need for chip design space exploration, while optimizing for power, performance, and area. Hammer is an open-source, reusable physical design (PD) flow generator that reduces design effort and increases portability by enforcing a separation among design-, tool-, and process technology-specific concerns with a modular software architecture. In this work, we outline Hammer’s structure and highlight recent extensions that support both physical chip designers and hardware architects evaluating the merit and feasibility of their proposed designs. This is accomplished through the integration of more tools and process technologies—some open-source—and the designer-driven development of flow step generators. An evaluation of chip designs in process technologies ranging from 130nm down to 12nm across a series of RISC-V-based chips shows how Hammer-generated flows are reusable and enable efficient optimization for diverse applications. 
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  5. 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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  6. null (Ed.)
    Reproducibility in the sciences is critical to reliable inquiry, but is often easier said than done. In the computer architecture community, research may require modifying systems from low-level circuits to operating systems and highlevel applications. All of these moving parts make reproducible experiments on full-stack systems challenging to design. Furthermore, the computing ecosystem evolves quickly, leading to rapidly obsolete artifacts. This is especially true in the realm of software where applications are often updated on a monthly, or even daily, cadence. In this paper we introduce FireMarshal, a software workload management tool for RISC-V based full-stack hardware development and research. FireMarshal automates workload generation (constructing boot binaries and filesystem images), development (with functional simulation), and evaluation (with cycle-exact RTL simulation). It also ensures, to the extent possible, that the exact same software runs deterministically across all phases of development, providing confidence in correctness and accuracy while minimizing time spent on slow and expensive RTL-level simulation. To ease workload specification, FireMarshal provides sane defaults for common components like firmware and operating systems, freeing users to focus only on project-specific components. Beyond reproducibility, Fire- Marshal enables continued development of workloads through the use of inheritance, where new workloads can be derived from established and continually updated base workloads. Users communicate their designs through the use of simple JSON configuration files that can be easily version controlled, reused, and shared. In this paper, we describe the design of FireMarshal along with the associated software management methodology for architectural research and development. 
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  7. 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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