On the (Dis)similarity of Transactional Memory Workloads

Clay Hughes, James Poe, Amer Qouneh, and Tao L, On the (Dis)similarity of Transactional Memory Workloads
International Symposium on Workload Characterization (IISWC), 2009-10-03

Abstract [-]: Abstract: Programming to exploit the resources in a multicore system remains a major obstacle for both computer and software engineers. Transactional memory offers an attractive alternative to traditional concurrent programming but implementations emerged before the programming model, leaving a gap in the design process. In previous research, transactional microbenchmarks have been used to evaluate designs or lock-based multithreaded workloads have been manually converted into their transactional equivalents; others have even created dedicated transactional benchmarks. Yet, throughout all of the investigations, transactional memory researchers have not settled on a way to describe the runtime characteristics that these programs exhibit; nor has there been any attempt to unify the way transactional memory implementations are evaluated. In addition, the similarity (or redundancy) of these workloads is largely unknown. Evaluating transactional memory designs using workloads that exhibit similar characteristics will unnecessarily increase the number of simulations without contributing new insight. On the other hand, arbitrarily choosing a subset of transactional memory workloads for evaluation can miss important features and lead to biased or incorrect conclusions. In this work, we propose a set of architecture-independent transaction-oriented workload characteristics that can accurately capture the behavior of transactional code. We apply principle component analysis and clustering algorithms to analyze the proposed workload characteristics collected from a set of SPLASH-2, STAMP, and PARSEC transactional memory programs. Our results show that using transactional characteristics to cluster the chosen benchmarks can reduce the number of required simulations by almost half. We also show that the methods presented in this paper can be used to identify specific feature subsets. With the increasing number of TM workloads in the future, we believe that the proposed transactional memory workload characterization techniques will help TM architects select a small, diverse, set of TM workloads for their design evaluation.
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