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XMT-GPU: A PRAM Architecture for Graphics Computation

Thomas M. DuBois, Bryant Lee, Yi Wang, Marc Olano, Uzi Vishkin
University of Maryland, College Park, MD
37th International Conference on Parallel Processing, 2008. ICPP ’08, p.364-372

@conference{dubois2008xmt,

   title={XMT-GPU: A PRAM Architecture for Graphics Computation},

   author={DuBois, TM and Lee, B. and Wang, Y. and Olano, M. and Vishkin, U.},

   booktitle={Parallel Processing, 2008. ICPP’08. 37th International Conference on},

   pages={364–372},

   issn={0190-3918},

   year={2008},

   organization={IEEE}

}

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The shading processors in graphics hardware are becoming increasingly general-purpose. We test, through simulation and benchmarking, the potential performance impact of replacing these processors with a fully general-purpose parallel processor, without the fixed-function graphics hardware legacy of current graphics processing units (GPUs). The representative general-purpose processor we test against is XMT (for explicit multi-threading), a PRAM-like single-chip parallel architecture. Performance is compared for two characteristic shaders running in a fragment-limited GPU benchmark harness and on a cycle-accurate XMT simulator. The general-purpose processor is found to be significantly faster at a compute-only shader, but slower on a memory bound texture shader. Finally we analyze the design tradeoffs that would allow combining the best of both worlds: (i) a competitive XMT texture shader, with (ii) a general-purpose easy-to-program XMT many-core approach that scales up or down to the amount of parallelism provided by the application and is even compatible with serial code.
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