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GPUVolt: Modeling And Characterizing Voltage Noise In GPUs

Jingwen Leng, Yazhou Zu, Minsoo Rhu, Meeta Sharma Gupta, and Vijay Janapa Reddi

In Proc. of International Symposium on Low Power Electronics and Design (ISLPED), Aug. 2014.


Voltage noise is a major obstacle in improving processor energy efficiency because it necessitates large operating voltage guardbands that increase overall power consumption and limit peak performance. Identifying the leading root causes of voltage noise is essential to minimize the unnecessary guardband and maximize the overall energy efficiency. We provide the first-ever modeling and characterization of voltage noise in GPUs based on a new simulation infrastructure called GPUVolt. Using it, we identify the key intracore microarchitectural components (e.g., the register file and special functional units) that significantly impact the GPU’s voltage noise. We also demonstrate that intercore-aligned microarchitectural activity detrimentally impacts the chip-wide worst-case voltage droops. On the basis of these findings, we propose a combined register-file and execution-unit throttling mechanism that smooths GPU voltage noise and reduces the guardband requirement by as much as 29%.