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ArMOR: Defending Against Memory Consistency Model Mismatches in Heterogeneous Architectures

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April 20, 2015
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Architectural heterogeneity is increasing: numerous products and studies have proven the benefits of combining cores and accelerators with varying ISAs into a single system. However, an underappreciated barrier to unlocking the full potential of heterogeneity is the need to specify and to reconcile differences in memory consistency models across layers of the hardware-software stack and among on-chip components.

This paper presents ArMOR, a framework for specifying, comparing, and translating between memory consistency models. ArMOR defines MOSTs, an architecture-independent and precise format for specifying the semantics of memory ordering requirements such as preserved program order or explicit fences. MOSTs allow any two consistency models to be directly and algorithmically compared, and they help avoid many of the pitfalls of traditional consistency model analysis. As a case study, we use ArMOR to automatically generate translation modules called shims that dynamically translate code compiled for one memory model to execute on hardware implementing a different model.

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