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Comparing Doom 3, Warcraft III, PBRT and MESA Using Micro-architecturally Independent Characteristics

Meng, Jiayuan; Cook, Henry; Skadron, Kevin; Weikle, Dee
Meng, Jiayuan
Cook, Henry
Skadron, Kevin
Weikle, Dee
Computer games have become a driving application in the personal computer industry. For computer architects designing general purpose microprocessors, understand- ing the characteristics of this application domain is im- portant to meet the needs of this growing market demo- graphic. In addition, games and 3D-graphics applications are some of the most demanding personal computer pro- grams. Understanding the characteristics of these appli- cations is complicated, though, by their competitive mar- ket. Source code is generally unavailable and benchmarks are geared more toward performance in the gaming world than understanding program characteristics important in architecture. To facilitate our architecture research, we have performed a characterization of two popular games, Doom 3 and Warcraft III, and compared them to two pub- licly available programs, PBRT (Physically Based Ray Tracer) and MESA, one of the Spec2000 benchmarks for 3D graphics, using microarchitecturally-independent met- rics. The dynamic execution of the programs was an- alyzed with modified Macintosh development tools and a comparison made with principal component analysis techniques. We found that the characteristics of these games differ from each other and the publicly available programs, particularly in memory reference patterns, and in their use of specialized instructions. From this prelim- inary investigation, we determine that games have unique characteristics, but that PBRT is more similar to both than MESA.
University of Virginia, Department of Computer Science, 2007
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