Intel Labs has been working with an international team of university researchers to develop designs that configure themselves for a wide range of workloads, scaling down for lightweight tasks, and scaling up to maximize performance for heavyweight tasks.
The collaboration between Intel and University of Texas has produced MorphCore, a CPU that “morphs” between two configurations. One configuration is tailored for high performance single-threaded workloads, a second for higher-throughput multi-threaded workloads.
The idea is that CPUs should be small and efficient when performing lightweight tasks such as chatting or messaging, but also offer the performance headroom required for heavier workloads such as video and image processing.
UT’s MorphCore modifies the design of a high-performance CPU to permit shutting down some buffers and repurposing others. Throughput mode splits the largest of these structures, the physical register file (PRF), into equal partitions, each storing the architectural state of one executing thread. This dramatically simplifies renaming, which assigns buffer space for fetched instructions. In addition, throughput mode turns off the load buffer and much of the store buffer, sacrificing memory reordering in favor of reduced power.
With optimizations explored so far, MorphCore simulations show 10% performance improvements as well as energy efficiency (Energy^2*Delay) gains of 22% versus a traditional high performance CPU.
Learn more about the project that won “best paper” award ” at the 2012 International Symposium on Microarchitecture for its “conceptual novelty and anticipated long term impact here.