Full-system simulators are increasingly finding their way into the consumer space for the purposes of backwards compatibility and hardware emulation (e.g. for games consoles). For such compute-intensive applications simulation performance is paramount. In this paper we argue that existing benchmarksuites such as SPEC CPU2006, originally designed for architecture and compiler performance evaluation, are not well suited for the identification of performance bottlenecks in full-system simulators. While their large, complex workloads provide an indication as to the performance of the simulator on ‘real-world’ workloads, this does not give any indication of why a particular simulator might run an application faster or slower than another. In this paper we present SimBench, an extensive suite of targeted micro-benchmarks designed to run bare-metal on a fullsystem simulator. SimBench exercises dynamic binary translation (DBT) performance, interrupt and exception handling, memoryaccess performance, I/O and other performance-sensitive areas. SimBench is cross-platform benchmarking framework and can be retargeted to new architectures with minimal effort. For several simulators, including QEMU, Gem5 and SimIt-ARM, and targeting ARM and Intel x86 architectures, we demonstrate that SimBench is capable of accurately pinpointing and explaining real-world performance anomalies, which are largely obfuscated by existing application-oriented benchmarks.
SimBench: a portable benchmarking methodology for full-system simulators
In proceedings of the 2017 IEEE International Symposium on Performance Analysis of Systems and Software