Performance Optimisation of Discrete-Event Simulation Software on Multi-Core Computers
Abstract: SIMLOX is a discrete-event simulation software developed by Systecon AB for analysing logistic support solution scenarios. To cope with ever larger problems, SIMLOX's simulation engine was recently enhanced with a parallel execution mechanism in order to take advantage of multi-core processors. However, this extension did not result in the desired reduction in runtime for all simulation scenarios even though the parallelisation strategy applied had promised linear speedup. Therefore, an in-depth analysis of the limiting scalability bottlenecks became necessary and has been carried out in this project. Through the use of a low-overhead profiler and microarchitecture analysis, the root causes were identified: atomic operations causing a high communication overhead, poor locality leading to translation lookaside buffer thrashing, and hot spots that consume significant amounts of CPU time. Subsequently, appropriate optimisations to overcome the limiting factors were implemented: eliminating the expensive operations, more efficient handling of heap memory through the use of a scalable memory allocator, and data structures that make better use of caches. Experimental evaluation using real world test cases demonstrated a speedup of at least 6.75x on an eight-core processor. Most cases even achieve a speedup of more than 7.2x. The various optimisations implemented further helped to lower run times for sequential execution by 1.5x or more. It can be concluded that achieving nearly linear speedup on a multi-core processor is possible in practice for discrete-event simulation.
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