Enhancing speculative execution with selective approximate computing

Article Type

Research Article

Publication Title

ACM Transactions on Design Automation of Electronic Systems


Speculative execution is an optimization technique used in modern processors by which predicted instructions are executed in advance with an objective of overlapping the latencies of slow operations. Branch prediction and load value speculation are examples of speculative execution used in modern pipelined processors to avoid execution stalls. However, speculative executions incur a performance penalty as an execution rollback when there is a misprediction. In this work, we propose to aid speculative execution with approximate computing by relaxing the execution rollback penalty associated with a misprediction. We propose a sensitivity analysis method for data and branches in a program to identify the data load and branch instructions that can be executed without any rollback in the pipeline and yet can ensure a certain user-specified quality of service of the application with a probabilistic reliability. Our analysis is based on statistical methods, particularly hypothesis testing and Bayesian analysis. We perform an architectural simulation of our proposed approximate execution and report the benefits in terms of CPU cycles and energy utilization on selected applications from the AxBench, ACCEPT, and Parsec 3.0 benchmarks suite.



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