Title page for ETD etd-10262007-144416

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Blumer, Aric David
Author's Email Address aric@vt.edu
URN etd-10262007-144416
Title Register Transfer Level Simulation Acceleration via Hardware/Software Process Migration
Degree PhD
Department Electrical and Computer Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Patterson, Cameron D. Committee Chair
Athanas, Peter M. Committee Member
Broadwater, Robert P. Committee Member
Jones, Mark T. Committee Member
Mortveit, Henning S. Committee Member
  • RTL Simulation
  • Process Migration
  • Run-time Reconfiguration
  • Reconfigurable Computing
  • Formal Modeling
  • Canonical RTL
  • Executive Locality of Reference
Date of Defense 2007-10-15
Availability unrestricted
The run-time reconfiguration of Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) opens new

avenues to hardware reuse. Through the use of process migration between hardware and

software, an FPGA provides a parallel execution cache. Busy processes can be migrated into

hardware-based, parallel processors, and idle processes can be migrated out increasing the

utilization of the hardware. The application of hardware/software process migration to the

acceleration of Register Transfer Level (RTL) circuit simulation is developed and analyzed.

RTL code can exhibit a form of locality of reference such that executing processes tend to be

executed again. This property is termed executive temporal locality, and it can be exploited by

migration systems to accelerate RTL simulation.

In this dissertation, process migration is first formally modeled using Finite State Machines

(FSMs). Upon FSMs are built programs, processes, migration realms, and the migration

of process state within a realm. From this model, a taxonomy of migration realms is

developed. Second, process migration is applied to the RTL simulation of digital circuits. The

canonical form of an RTL process is defined, and transformations of HDL code are justified

and demonstrated. These transformations allow a simulator to identify basic active units within

the simulation and combine them to balance the load across a set of processors. Through the

use of input monitors, executive locality of reference is identified and demonstrated on a set

of six RTL designs. Finally, the implementation of a migration system is described which

utilizes Virtual Machines (VMs) and Real Machines (RMs) in existing FPGAs. Empirical and

algorithmic models are developed from the data collected from the implementation to evaluate

the effect of optimizations and migration algorithms.

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