Hardware-software model co-simulation for GPU IP development
Abstract: This Master's thesis project aims to explore the possibility of a mixed simulation environment in which parts of a software model for emulating a hardware design may be swapped with their corresponding RTL description. More specifically, this work focuses on the sofware model for Arm's next-generation Mali GPU, which is used to understand system on chip properties, including functionality and performance. A component of this model (written in C++) is substituted with its hardware model (written in SystemVerilog) to be able to run simulations in a system context at a faster emulation speed, and with higher accuracy in the results compared to a pure-software model execution. For this, a "co-simulation" environment is developed, using SystemVerilog's DPI-C as the main communication interface between C++ and SystemVerilog. The proposed environment contains new software and hardware blocks to enable the desired objective without major modifications in neither the software Mali model nor the substituted component. Metrics and results for characterizing this co-simulation environment are also provided, namely timing accuracy, data correctness and simulation time with respect to other previously available simulation options. These results hope to show that the proposed environment may open new use-cases and improve development and verification time of hardware components in a system such as the Mali GPU.
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