Laboratory for Computer Science; Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA 02139
... utilization. By maintaining multiple process contexts in hardware and switching among them in a few cycles, multithreaded processors can overlap computation with memory accesses and reduce processor idle time. This paper presents an analytical performance model for multithreaded processors that includes cache interference, network contention, context-switching overhead, and data-sharing effects. The model is validated through our own simulations and by comparison with previously published simulation results. Our results indicate that processors can substantially benefit from multithreading, even in systems with small caches. Large caches yield close to full processor utilization with as few as two to four contexts, while small caches may require up to four times as many contexts. Increased network contention due to multithreading has a major effect on performance. The available network bandwidth and the context-switching overhead limits the best possible utilization.
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