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TriCheck: Memory model verification at the trisection of software, hardware, and ISA

Author(s): Trippel, C; Manerkar, YA; Lustig, D; Pellauer, M; Martonosi, Margaret R.

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Abstract: Memory consistency models (MCMs) which govern intermodule interactions in a shared memory system, are a significant, yet often under-appreciated, aspect of system design. MCMs are defined at the various layers of the hardwaresoftware stack, requiring thoroughly verified specifications, compilers, and implementations at the interfaces between layers. Current verification techniques evaluate segments of the system stack in isolation, such as proving compiler mappings from a high-level language (HLL) to an ISA or proving validity of a microarchitectural implementation of an ISA. This paper makes a case for full-stack MCM verification and provides a toolflow, TriCheck, capable of verifying that the HLL, compiler, ISA, and implementation collectively uphold MCM requirements. The work showcases TriCheck's ability to evaluate a proposed ISA MCM in order to ensure that each layer and each mapping is correct and complete. Specifically, we apply TriCheck to the open source RISCV ISA [55], seeking to verify accurate, efficient, and legal compilations from C11. We uncover under-specifications and potential inefficiencies in the current RISC-V ISA documentation and identify possible solutions for each. As an example, we find that a RISC-V-compliant microarchitecture allows 144 outcomes forbidden by C11 to be observed out of 1,701 litmus tests examined. Overall, this paper demonstrates the necessity of full-stack verification for detecting MCM-related bugs in the hardware-software stack.
Publication Date: 4-Apr-2017
Electronic Publication Date: 2017
Citation: Trippel, C, Manerkar, YA, Lustig, D, Pellauer, M, Martonosi, M. (2017). TriCheck: Memory model verification at the trisection of software, hardware, and ISA. Part F127193 (119 - 133. doi:10.1145/3037697.3037719
DOI: doi:10.1145/3037697.3037719
Pages: 119 - 133
Type of Material: Conference Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems - ASPLOS
Version: Author's manuscript

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