Todd Mytkowicz and Mark Marron
Software rarely uses all the
potential performance available in a modern microprocessor. For
example, on an Intel Core 2 class workstation—a microprocessor
capable of executing 4 instructions per cycle—the average instructions
per cycle for the single-threaded DaCapo benchmark suite is
0.98. In other words, even in the multi-core era, there is still enormous
potential to increase single-core program performance. Recent
work in PLDI has focused on multi-core performance: by our
count PLDI’10 has around 6 papers on multi-core optimizations
and PLDI’11 has 6 papers as well.
We believe this aggressive focus on multi-core may miss a critical
trend in computing environments: power, or performance per
watt. The issues of power consumption and thermal dissipation are
now major limiting factors in performance, even in environments
with unconstrained power and cooling systems (e.g., desktops or
servers). However, power consumption and performance per watt
are even more critical in mobile computing (e.g., phones or tablets)
and data centers, which are increasingly important computing environments.
We argue that, while research on multi-core optimizations
is valuable, improvements in single-core performance via
improved resource utilization are key to increasing performance
and doing so with minimal impact on power consumption.
In PLDI FIT