Microarchitectural Exploration with Liberty [abstract] (DOI, PDF, PostScript)
Manish Vachharajani, Neil Vachharajani, David A. Penry, Jason A. Blome, and David I. August
Proceedings of the 35th International Symposium on Microarchitecture (MICRO), November 2002.
Winner Best Student Paper Award.

To find the best designs, architects must rapidly simulate many design alternatives and have confidence in the results. Unfortunately, the most prevalent simulator construction methodology, hand-writing monolithic simulators in sequential programming languages, yields simulators that are hard to retarget, limiting the number of designs explored, and hard to understand, instilling little confidence in the model. Simulator construction tools have been developed to address these problems, but analysis reveals that they do not address the root cause, the error-prone mapping between the concurrent, structural hardware domain and the sequential, functional software domain. This paper presents an analysis of these problems and their solution, the Liberty Simulation Environment (LSE). LSE automatically constructs a simulator from a machine description that closely resembles the hardware, ensuring fidelity in the model. Furthermore, through a strict but general component communication contract, LSE enables the creation of highly reusable component libraries, easing the task of rapidly exploring ever more exotic designs.