Neural methods for dynamic branch prediction
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This article presents a new and highly accurate method for branch prediction. The key idea is to use one of the simplest possible neural methods, the perceptron, as an alternative to the commonly used two-bit counters. The source of our predictor's accuracy is its ability to use long history lengths, because the hardware resources for our method scale linearly, rather than exponentially, with the history length. We describe two versions of perceptron predictors, and we evaluate these predictors with respect to five well-known predictors. We show that for a 4 KB hardware budget, a simple version of our method that uses a global history achieves a misprediction rate of 4.6% on the SPEC 2000 integer benchmarks, an improvement of 26% over gshare. We also introduce a global/local version of our predictor that is 14% more accurate than the McFarling-style hybrid predictor of the Alpha 21264. We show that for hardware budgets of up to 256 KB, this global/local perceptron predictor is more accurate than Evers' multicomponent predictor, so we conclude that ours is the most accurate dynamic predictor currently available. To explore the feasibility of our ideas, we provide a circuit-level design of the perceptron predictor and describe techniques that allow our complex predictor to operate quickly. Finally, we show how the relatively complex perceptron predictor can be used in modern CPUs by having it override a simpler, quicker Smith predictor, providing IPC improvements of 15.8% over gshare and 5.7% over the McFarling hybrid predictor.
author list (cited authors)
Jiménez, D. A., & Lin, C.