Michael A. Driscoll

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Electrical and Computer Engineering


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Physical Description

1 online resource (2, x, 112 p.)


Computer networks -- Design and construction, Computer networks -- Evaluation, Computer networks -- Simulation methods




A methodology is proposed for designing performance optimized computer systems. The methodology uses software tools created for performance monitoring and evaluation of parallel programs, replacing actual hardware with a simulator modeling the hardware under development. We claim that a software environment can help hardware designers to make decisions on the architectural design level. A simulator executes real programs and provides access to performance monitors from user's code. The performance monitoring system collects data traces when running the simulator and the performance analysis module extracts performance data of interest, that are later displayed with visualization tools. Key features of our methodology are "plug and play" simulation and modeling hardware/software interaction during the process of hardware design. The ability to use different simulators gives the user flexibility to configure the system for the required functionality, accuracy and simulation performance. Evaluation of hardware performance based on results obtained by modeling hardware/software interaction is crucial for designing performance optimized computer systems. We have developed a software system, based on our design methodology, for performance evaluation of multicomputer interconnection networks. The system, called the Parsim Common Environment (PCE), consists of an instrumented network simulator that executes assembly language instructions, and performance analysis and visualization modules. Using PCE we have investigated a specific network design example. The system helped us spot performance problems, explain why they happened and find the ways to solve them. The obtained results agreed with observations presented in the literature, hence validating our design methodology and the correctness of the software performance evaluation system for hardware designs. Using software tools a designer can easily check different design options and evaluate the obtained performance results without the overhead of building expensive prototypes. With our system, data analysis that required 10 man-hours to complete manually took just a couple of seconds on a Sparc-4 workstation. Without experimentation with the simulator and the performance evaluation environment one might build an expensive hardware prototype, expecting improved performance, and then be disappointed with poorer results than expected. Our tools help designers spot and solve performance problems at early stages of the hardware design process.


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