Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: New Results

WCET estimation and optimization

Participants : Loïc Besnard, Damien Hardy, Isabelle Puaut, Stefanos Skalistis.

WCET estimation for many core processors

Participants : Damien Hardy, Isabelle Puaut, Stefanos Skalistis.

Optimization of WCETs by considering the effects of local caches

The overall goal of this research is to define WCET estimation methods for parallel applications running on many-core architectures, such as the Kalray MPPA machine. Some approaches to reach this goal have been proposed, but they assume the mapping of parallel applications on cores is already done. Unfortunately, on architectures with caches, task mapping requires a priori known WCETs for tasks, which in turn requires knowing task mapping (i.e., co-located tasks, co-running tasks) to have tight WCET bounds. Therefore, scheduling parallel applications and estimating their WCET introduce a chicken-and-egg situation.

We addressed this issue by developing both optimal and heuristic techniques for solving the scheduling problem, whose objective is to minimize the WCET of a parallel application. Our proposed static partitioned non-preemptive mapping strategies address the effect of local caches to tighten the estimated WCET of the parallel application. Experimental results obtained on real and synthetic parallel applications show that co-locating tasks that reuse code and data improves the WCET by 11 % on average for the optimal method and by 9 % on average for the heuristic method. An implementation on the Kalray MPPA machine allowed to identify implementation-related overheads. All results are described in [18].

Shared resource contentions and WCET estimation

Accurate WCET analysis for multi-cores is known to be challenging, because of concurrent accesses to shared resources, such as communication through busses or Networks on Chips (NoC). Since it is impossible in general to guarantee the absence of resource conflicts during execution, current WCET techniques either produce pessimistic WCET estimates or constrain the execution to enforce the absence of conflicts, at the price of a significant hardware under-utilization. In addition, the large majority of existing works consider that the platform workload consists of independent tasks. As parallel programming is the most promising solution to improve performance, we envision that within only a few years from now, real-time workloads will evolve toward parallel programs. The WCET behavior of such programs is challenging to analyze because they consist of dependent tasks interacting through complex synchronization/communication mechanisms.

In [28], we propose a scheduling technique that jointly selects Scratchpad Memory (SPM) contents off-line, in such a way that the cost of SPM loading/unloading is hidden. Communications are fragmented to augment hiding possibilities. Experimental results show the effectiveness of the proposed technique on streaming applications and synthetic task-graphs. The overlapping of communications with computations allows the length of generated schedules to be reduced by 4 % on average on streaming applications, with a maximum of 16 %, and by 8 % on average for synthetic task graphs. We further show on a case study that generated schedules can be implemented with low overhead on a predictable multi-core architecture (Kalray MPPA).

Interference-sensitive run-time adaptation of time-triggered schedules

In time-critical systems, run-time adaptation is required to improve the performance of time-triggered execution, derived based on Worst-Case Execution Time (WCET) of tasks. By improving performance, the systems can provide higher Quality-of-Service, in safety-critical systems, or execute other best-effort applications, in mixed-critical systems. To achieve this goal, we propose in [32] a parallel interference-sensitive run-time adaptation mechanism that enables a fine-grained synchronisation among cores. Since the run-time adaptation of offline solutions can potentially violate the timing guarantees, we present the Response-Time Analysis (RTA) of the proposed mechanism showing that the system execution is free of timing-anomalies. The RTA takes into account the timing behavior of the proposed mechanism and its associated WCET. To support our contribution, we evaluate the behavior and the scalability of the proposed approach for different application types and execution configurations on the 8-core Texas Instruments TMS320C6678 platform. The obtained results show significant performance improvement compared to state-of-the-art centralized approaches.

WCET-Aware Parallelization of Model-Based Applications for Multi-Cores

Parallel architectures are nowadays not only confined to the domain of high performance computing, they are also increasingly used in embedded time-critical systems.

The Argo H2020 project provides a programming paradigm and associated tool flow to exploit the full potential of architectures in terms of development productivity, time-to-market, exploitation of the platform computing power and guaranteed real-time performance. The Argo toolchain operates on Scilab and XCoS inputs, and targets ScratchPad Memory (SPM)-based multi-cores. Data-layout and loop transformations play a key role in this flow as they improve SPM efficiency and reduce the number of accesses to shared main memory.

In [19] we present the overall results of the project, a compiler tool-flow for automated parallelization of model-based real-time software, which addresses the shortcomings of multi-core architectures in real-time systems. The flow is demonstrated using a model-based Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems (TAWS) and an edge detection algorithm from the image-processing domain. Model-based applications are first transformed into real-time C code and from there into a well-predictable parallel C program. Tight bounds for the Worst-Case Execution Time (WCET) of the parallelized program can be determined using an integrated multi-core WCET analysis. Thanks to the use of an architecture description language, the general approach is applicable to a wider range of target platforms. An experimental evaluation for a research architecture with network-on-chip (NoC) interconnect shows that the parallel WCET of the TAWS application can be improved by factor 1.77 using the presented compiler tools.

WCET estimation and optimizing compilers

Participants : Isabelle Puaut, Stefanos Skalistis.

Static Worst-Case Execution Time (WCET) estimation techniques operate upon the binary code of a program in order to provide the necessary input for schedulability analysis techniques. Compilers used to generate this binary code include tens of optimizations, that can radically change the flow information of the program. Such information is hard to be maintained across optimization passes and may render automatic extraction of important flow information, such as loop bounds, impossible. Thus, compiler optimizations, especially the sophisticated optimizations of mainstream compilers, are typically avoided. We explore [24] for the first time iterative-compilation techniques that reconcile compiler optimizations and static WCET estimation. We propose a novel learning technique that selects sequences of optimizations that minimize the WCET estimate of a given program. We experimentally evaluate the proposed technique using an industrial WCET estimation tool (AbsInt aiT) over a set of 46 benchmarks from four different benchmarks suites, including reference WCET benchmark applications, image processing kernels and telecommunication applications. Experimental results show that WCET estimates are reduced on average by 20.3 % using the proposed technique, as compared to the best compiler optimization level applicable.

WCET estimation and processor micro-architecture

Participant : Isabelle Puaut.

Cache memories in modern embedded processors are known to improve average memory access performance. Unfortunately, they are also known to represent a major source of unpredictability for hard real-time workload. One of the main limitations of typical caches is that content selection and replacement is entirely performed in hardware. As such, it is hard to control the cache behavior in software to favor caching of blocks that are known to have an impact on an application's worst-case execution time (WCET). In [26], we consider a cache replacement policy, namely DM-LRU, that allows system designers to prioritize caching of memory blocks that are known to have an important impact on an application's WCET. Considering a single-core, single-level cache hierarchy, we describe an abstract interpretation-based timing analysis for DM-LRU. We implement the proposed analysis in a self-contained toolkit and study its qualitative properties on a set of representative benchmarks. Apart from being useful to compute the WCET when DM-LRU or similar policies are used, the proposed analysis can allow designers to perform WCET impact-aware selection of content to be retained in cache.

Long pipelines need good branch predictors to keep the pipeline running. Current branch predictors are optimized for the average case, which might not be a good fit for real-time systems and worst-case execution time analysis. We present [29] a time-predictable branch predictor co-designed with the associated worst-case execution time analysis. Thee branch predictor uses a fully-associative cache to track branch outcomes and destination addresses. The fully-associative cache avoids any false sharing of entries between branches. Therefore, we can analyze program scopes that contain a number of branches lower than or equal to the number of branches in the prediction table. Experimental results show that the worst-case execution time bounds of programs using the proposed predictor are lower than using static branch predictors at a moderate hardware cost.