and weren't 'they' right?

By: Daniel B (, September 13, 2021 4:20 am
Room: Moderated Discussions
Andrei F ( on September 12, 2021 2:09 am wrote:
> --- ( on September 10, 2021 6:24 pm wrote:
> > Andrei F ( on September 10, 2021 1:49 pm wrote:
> > > Andrey ( on September 10, 2021 10:38 am wrote:
> > > > Andrei F ( on September 10, 2021 10:31 am wrote:
> > > > > inteluser ( on September 10, 2021 2:52 am wrote:
> > > > > > on alder lake, how will the separation instructions of small cores or big cores?
> > > > > > will there be a dispatcher or scheduler from HW or the OS to take priority?
> > > > >
> > > > > The same way we've had heterogeneous cores in mobile SoCs for the better part of a decade.
> > > > >
> > > > > The OS scheduler just sees another core, and there's extra load and utilisation heuristics
> > > > > to schedule workloads around the various cores to make best use of perf or efficiency.
> > > > >
> > > > > There is no hardware involved.
> > > >
> > > > I thought Thread Director is the hardware that is involved. It's supposed
> > > > to hint the software as to where the workload is better scheduled.
> > > >
> > >
> > > It's just a glorified microcontroller that collects performance counter data and writes into some
> > > structs into memory that the OS then uses to make scheduler migration decisions. The same thing could
> > > be done totally in software, though with a little more overhead due to the finer granularity.
> >
> > In PRINCIPLE the HW can do more. Whether you call this "scheduling" is an uninteresing question IMHO.
> >
> > Obviously (even pre-AMP) the HW can use the indicators it tracks to vary the DVFS
> > of a CPU. I thought Intel already does this as one of the versions of Turboboost.
> >
> > Next you can use the indicators to dynamically vary more just
> > CPU performance; for example code with an aggressive
> > DRAM profile can have the DRAM frequency boosted to maximum even as the CPU frequency is reduced.
> There is no "HW" in the proper term, it's still a software firmware just that it's running
> on a smaller low-power microcontroller instead of the CPU cores themselves.
> DRAM is already a completely separate domain that is completely transparent to
> the OS in most parts and any serious SoC have had microcontroller targeted independent
> DVFS based on NoC/MC traffic. We've had this for years and years.
> >
> > Finally (and this is AMP-relevant) if a large core has a relationship with a small core
> > (eg producer-consumer, ...) the small core can be appropriately boosted in speed.
> > The one version of this (there are probably more) that we know of is a large core
> > tracking that some fraction of its cache misses are sourced from a small core:
> >
> (This isn't related to that patent but in general)
> One of the biggest issues that the traditional companies is that they have not understood power efficient
> DVFS. Years ago, Intel engineers lambasted schemes like big.LITTLE because it was "not hardware controlled"
> - but you precisely do not want ultra-fine grained DVFS like that for several reasons. In battery powered
> devices the whole point of DVFS was to avoid the higher performance states and voltages as much as possible,
> and what matters here is the delivery of performance within a unit of user experience, essentially a 16ms
> or 8ms frame, which is AGES. The act of frequency and voltage change itself takes up quite a bit of energy
> and you literally do not want to do it that fast because it actually would be more efficient to smooth out
> performance over the duration of your frame at a lower state, or clock/power-gate at smaller idle periods
> rather than to DVFS down. The same applies to things like DRAM frequency changes - you don't want to track
> and change this in a too fine-grained manner because you'll be wasting a ton of energy.
> Related to that Apple patent, I ask if the energy investment is worth it given
> it's only a "fraction" of cache misses - you're not just impacting the one small
> core but the whole frequency and voltage domain of the small core cluster.
> Alder Lake is a bit special here in that it will go both in battery powered devices as well
> as AC power devices - the latter is a performance scenario we haven't seen before in heterogenous
> CPU designs so maybe a lot of the perceptions get thrown out the window, but I have doubts
> that Intel will implement two completely different operation modes - we'll see.

As a self-confessed ignoramus, I still think that for the vast majority of cases going big-little is simply a business case/economics decision for NRE cost/effort vs. variable cost (silicon estate), as opposed to being based on technical merit. In Alderlake, I find it wholly confusing why would anyone care for the little cores, and why I'm paying for them. Even in most laptops, A processor should be a small fraction of a laptop's energy need, it's the screen and wifi. In a smartphone, I don't get why not properly design a mid-field core, rather than have high performance which most people never need, paired with low performance with may not be enough often not to engage the HP core. The efficiency cores gradually get faster, better, to a point where soon in a smartphone you don't actually need HP cores anymore - it's as fast as the high-performance from a few generations back...diminishing returns of customer value kicks in. And the whole scheduling complexity that comes with it all is just awkward, is it not? Either the scheduler needs to learn the application behaviour or the application should come tagged, but then the ISV is expected to understand hardware and system energy efficiency, which they don't. Or is that it all works when it matters (e.g. running a game or rendering a complex website on HP cores once it detects the high load), and it mostly doesn't matter to the end-user when it doesn't work (e.g. running a parking app on the wrong cores)?
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TopicPosted ByDate
alder lake.inteluser2021/09/10 01:52 AM
  alder lake.Andrei F2021/09/10 09:31 AM
    alder lake.Andrey2021/09/10 09:38 AM
      alder lake.rwessel2021/09/10 11:18 AM
      alder lake.Andrei F2021/09/10 12:49 PM
        alder lake.Andrey2021/09/10 04:12 PM
          alder lake.David Hess2021/09/10 07:39 PM
            alder lake.Andrey2021/09/11 12:28 AM
        alder lake.---2021/09/10 05:24 PM
          alder lake.Andrei F2021/09/12 01:09 AM
            DVFSDavid Kanter2021/09/12 09:58 PM
              DVFSAndrei F2021/09/13 01:02 AM
                DVFSAnon2021/09/13 03:28 AM
                DVFSJukka Larja2021/09/13 05:35 AM
                  DVFSAndrei F2021/09/14 12:07 AM
                    DVFSJukka Larja2021/09/14 04:11 AM
                      DVFSAndrei F2021/09/14 07:55 AM
                        DVFSJukka Larja2021/09/14 10:23 AM
                DVFS---2021/09/13 10:19 AM
                  DVFSDoug S2021/09/13 10:57 AM
                    DVFSDavid Hess2021/09/13 11:32 AM
                    DVFS---2021/09/13 01:06 PM
                      DVFSDavid Hess2021/09/13 02:21 PM
                    DVFSDavid Kanter2021/09/15 03:05 PM
                  DVFSDavid Hess2021/09/13 11:46 AM
                  DVFSJukka Larja2021/09/14 04:35 AM
                Quick shutdown?David Kanter2021/09/15 10:46 AM
                  Quick shutdown?Andrei F2021/09/16 07:12 AM
                    Quick shutdown?David Kanter2021/09/16 11:04 AM
                      Quick shutdown?Andrei F2021/09/17 01:35 AM
                        Quick shutdown?Andrei F2021/09/17 01:38 AM
            and weren't 'they' right?Daniel B2021/09/13 04:20 AM
              and weren't 'they' right?Andrei F2021/09/13 04:51 AM
                and weren't 'they' right?Daniel B2021/09/13 06:29 AM
              and weren't 'they' right?anon2021/09/13 05:07 AM
                and weren't 'they' right?Jukka Larja2021/09/13 05:26 AM
                  and weren't 'they' right?anon2021/09/13 11:37 PM
              Alder Lake has no little coresHeikki Kultala2021/09/13 06:33 AM
                Alder Lake has no little coresMichael S2021/09/13 07:33 AM
                  Alder Lake has no little coresme2021/09/13 10:45 AM
                  Alder Lake has no little coresHeikki Kultala2021/09/13 01:49 PM
                    Alder Lake has no little coresanon2021/09/13 11:42 PM
                why stop at two core sizes?hobold2021/09/14 05:47 AM
                  Memory caches did this, right?Mark Roulo2021/09/14 02:51 PM
                    Memory caches did this, right?Brett2021/09/14 07:17 PM
                      Memory caches did this, right?Kevin G2021/09/16 03:10 PM
                  Large reorder buffers (L1+L2)2021/09/15 11:24 AM
                    Large reorder buffers (L1+L2)hobold2021/09/15 12:06 PM
                Alder Lake has no little coresAdrian2021/09/14 08:33 AM
              and weren't 'they' right?David Hess2021/09/13 12:00 PM
                Battery vs PerformanceMark Roulo2021/09/13 12:18 PM
                  Battery vs PerformanceDoug S2021/09/13 02:05 PM
                    Battery vs PerformanceDavid Hess2021/09/13 02:28 PM
                      Battery vs Performance---2021/09/13 05:08 PM
                      Battery vs Performance---2021/09/13 05:08 PM
                      Battery vs PerformanceDoug S2021/09/13 08:53 PM
                    Battery vs PerformanceAnon2021/09/14 06:42 AM
                and weren't 'they' right?Daniel B2021/09/13 12:57 PM
                  and weren't 'they' right?David Hess2021/09/13 02:11 PM
                    and weren't 'they' right?---2021/09/13 02:38 PM
                  and weren't 'they' right?---2021/09/13 02:32 PM
                and weren't 'they' right?Brendan2021/09/14 03:30 AM
                  and weren't 'they' right?Jukka Larja2021/09/14 04:31 AM
              and weren't 'they' right?Etienne Lorrain2021/09/14 12:29 AM
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