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The authors present RAMP Gold, an economical FPGA-based architecture simulator that allows rapid early design-space exploration of many-core systems. The RAMP Gold prototype is a high-throughput, cycle-accurate full-system simulator that runs on a single Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGA board, and which simulates a 64-core shared-memory target machine capable of booting real operating systems. To improve FPGA implementation efficiency, functionality and timing are modeled separately and host multi-threading is used in both models. They evaluate the prototype's performance using a modern parallel benchmark suite running on their many-core research operating system, achieving two orders of magnitude speedup compared to a widely-used software-based architecture simulator.
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