USENIX 2005 Annual Technical Conference, General Track Abstract
Pp. 265278 of the Proceedings
Awarded General Track Best Student Paper!
ItaniumA System Implementor's Tale
Charles Gray, University of New South Wales; Matthew Chapman and Peter Chubb, University of New South Wales and National ICT Australia; David Mosberger-Tang, Hewlett-Packard Labs; Gernot Heiser, University of New South Wales and National ICT Australia
Itanium is a fairly new and rather unusual architecture. Its defining
feature is explicitly-parallel instruction-set computing (EPIC),
which moves the onus for exploiting instruction-level parallelism
(ILP) from the hardware to the code generator. Itanium theoretically
supports high degrees of ILP, but in practice these are hard to achieve,
as present compilers are often not up to the task. This is much more a
problem for systems than for application code, as compiler writers'
efforts tend to be focused on SPEC benchmarks, which are not
representative of operating systems code. As a result, good OS
performance on Itanium is a serious challenge, but the potential
rewards are high.
EPIC is not the only interesting and novel feature of
Itanium. Others include an unusual MMU, a huge register set, and tricky
virtualisation issues. We present a number of the challenges posed by
the architecture, and show how they can be overcome by clever design
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