Tradeoffs in designing accelerator architectures for visual computing

Aqeel Mahesri, Daniel Johnson, Neal Crago, Sanjay J. Patel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Visualization, interaction, and simulation (VIS) constitute a class of applications that is growing in importance. This class includes applications such as graphics rendering, video encoding, simulation, and computer vision. These applications are ideally suited for accelerators because of their parallelizability and demand for high throughput. We compile a benchmark suite, VIS-Bench, to serve as a proxy for this application class. We use VISBench to examine some important high level decisions for an accelerator architecture. We propose a highly parallel base architecture. We examine the need for synchronization and data communication. We also examine GPU-style SIMD execution and find that a MIMD architecture usually performs better. Given these high level choices, we use VISBench to explore the microarchitectural design space. We analyze area versus performance tradeoffs in designing individual cores and the memory hierarchy. We find that a design made of small, simple cores achieves much higher throughput than a general purpose uniprocessor. Further, we find that a limited amount of support for ILP within each core aids overall performance. We find that fine-grained multithreading improves performance, but only up to a point. We find that word-level (SSE-style) SIMD provides a poor performance to area ratio. Finally, we find that sufficient memory and cache bandwidth is essential to performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2008 Proceedings of the 41st Annual IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture, MICRO-41
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2008
Event2008 - 41st Annual IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture, MICRO-41 - Lake Como, Italy
Duration: Nov 8 2008Nov 12 2008

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual International Symposium on Microarchitecture, MICRO
ISSN (Print)1072-4451


Other2008 - 41st Annual IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture, MICRO-41
CityLake Como

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hardware and Architecture


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