Wattch: A framework for architectural-level power analysis and optimizations

David Brooks, Vivek Tiwari, Margaret Martonosi

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2156 Scopus citations


Power dissipation and thermal issues are increasingly significant in modern processors. As a result, it is crucial that power/performance tradeoffs be made more visible to chip architects and even compiler writers, in addition to circuit designers. Most existing power analysis tools achieve high accuracy by calculating power estimates for designs only after layout or floorplanning are complete. In addition to being available only late in the design process, such tools are often quite slow, which compounds the difficulty of running them for a large space of design possibilities. This paper presents Wattch, a framework for analyzing and optimizing microprocessor power dissipation at the architecture-level. Wattch is 1000X or more faster than existing layout-level power tools, and yet maintains accuracy within 10% of their estimates as verified using industry tools on leading-edge designs. This paper presents several validations of Wattch's accuracy. In addition, we present three examples that demonstrate how architects or compiler writers might use Wattch to evaluate power consumption in their design process. We see Wattch as a complement to existing lower-level tools; it allows architects to explore and cull the design space early on, using faster, higher-level tools. It also opens up the field of power-efficient computing to a wider range of researchers by providing a power evaluation methodology within the portable and familiar SimpleScalar framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-94
Number of pages12
JournalConference Proceedings - Annual International Symposium on Computer Architecture, ISCA
StatePublished - 2000
EventISCA-27: The 27th Annual International Symposium on Computer Architecture - Vancouver, BC, Can
Duration: Jun 10 2000Jun 14 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hardware and Architecture


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