Report Number: CS-TR-98-1603
Institution: Stanford University, Department of Computer Science
Title: Using Complete Machine Simulation to Understand Computer System Behavior
Author: Herrod, Stephen Alan
Date: March 1998
Abstract: This dissertation describes complete machine simulation, a novel approach to understanding the behavior of modern computer systems. Complete machine simulation models all of the hardware found in modern computer systems, allowing it to investigate the behavior of highly configurable machines running commercial operating systems and important workloads such as database and web servers. Complete machine simulation extends the applicability of traditional machine simulation techniques by addressing speed and data organization challenges. To achieve the speed needed to investigate long-running workloads, complete machine simulation allows an investigator to dynamically adjust the characteristics of its hardware simulation. An investigator can select a high-speed, low-detail simulation setting to quickly pass through uninteresting portions of a workload's execution. Once the workload has reached a more interesting execution state, an investigator can switch to slower, more detailed simulation to obtain behavioral information. To efficiently organize low-level hardware simulation data into more useful information, complete machine simulation provides several mechanisms that incorporate higher-level workload knowledge into the data management process. These mechanisms are efficient and further improve simulation speed by customizing all data collection and reporting to the specific needs of an investigation.