TSpec: A Notation for Describing Memory Reference Traces

Authors:Weikle, D, Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of Virginia Skadron, Kevin, Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of Virginia McKee, Sally, Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of Virginia Wulf, William, Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of Virginia

Interpreting reference patterns in the output of a processor is complicated by the lack of a succinct notation for humans to use when communicating about them. Since an actual trace is simply an incredibly long list of numbers, it is difficult to see the underlying patterns inherent in it. The source code, while simpler to look at, does not include the effects of compiler optimizations such as loop unrolling, and so can be misleading as to the actual references and order seen by the memory system. To simplify communication of traces between researchers and to understand them more completely, we have developed a notation for representing them that is easy for humans to read, write, and analyze. We call this notation TSpec, for trace specification notation. It has been designed for use in cache design with four goals in mind. First, it is intended to assist in communication between people, especially with respect to understanding the patterns inherent in memory reference traces. Second, it is the object on which the cache filter model operates. Specifically, the trace and state of the cache are represented in TSpec, these are then the inputs for a function that models the cache, and the result of that function is a modified trace and state that are also represented in TSpec. Third, it supports the future creation of a machine readable version that could be used to generate traces to drive simulators, or for use in tools (such as translators from assembly language to TSpec). Finally, it can be used to represent different levels of abstraction in benchmark analysis.

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Source Citation:

Weikle, D, Kevin Skadron, Sally McKee, and William Wulf. "TSpec: A Notation for Describing Memory Reference Traces." University of Virginia Dept. of Computer Science Tech Report (2000).

University of Virginia, Department of Computer Science
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