During the concept phase and definition of next generation high-end processors, power and performance will need to be weighted appropriately to deliver competitive cost/performance. It is not enough to adopt a CPI-centric view alone in early-stage definition studies. One of the fundamental issues confronting the architect at this stage is the choice of pipeline depth and target frequency. In this paper we present an optimization methodology that starts with an analytical power-performance model to derive optimal pipeline depth for a superscalar processor. The results are validated and further refined using detailed simulation based analysis. As part of the power-modeling methodology, we have developed equations that model the variation of energy as a function of pipeline depth. Our results using a set of SPEC2000 applications show that when both power and performance are considered for optimization, the optimal clock period is around 18 FO4. We also provide a detailed sensitivity analysis of the optimal pipeline depth against key assumptions of these energy models.
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